The biggest political scandal of our time is the national debt

The biggest political scandal of our time is the national debt
© Getty

The biggest political scandal of our time is not the Donald Trump-Russia investigation. It is not the infamous tarmac meeting between Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonA missed opportunity for Democrats in the border wall showdown Dem pollster blames Gingrich for current partisan strife The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he 'never directed' Cohen to break the law | GOP reels from Trump shutdown threat | Alleged spy Butina pleads guilty to conspiracy charge MORE and Loretta Lynch. And no, it is not Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Comey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official MORE’s shady Uranium One deal.

The biggest political scandal of our time is our $20 trillion debt. And yet, most Americans don’t seem to care.

Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen said this week that she is "very worried" about the national debt — especially given that federal spending on entitlement programs continue to rapidly increase.  

ADVERTISEMENT
Yellen is right to be concerned. Unfortunately, her warning — as well as the immense debt itself, which reached a staggering $20 trillion in September — is getting little media coverage. Instead the nation’s leading journalists, pundits, and analysts have busied themselves obsessing over President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE’s latest retweets, disgraced NBC anchor Matt Lauer, and the Robert Mueller investigation.  

Yes, those are stories deserving of coverage. But the importance of all three pales in comparison to catastrophic consequences the debt tsunami that will bankrupt generations to come.

If we paid back the federal debt today, every man, woman, and child would owe the federal government over $63,000. And that figure is misleading because children do not pay taxes, nor do the poor. Meanwhile, out-of-control federal spending shows no signs of slowing and the entitlement state continues to balloon.

Welfare spending is now the largest item in the federal budget. As the national debt expands, excessive government handouts incentivize many Americans to remain jobless and in poverty.

Consider the following statistics:

  • A whopping 45 percent of Americans pay zero income tax.
  • Over 45 million Americans are currently on food stamps. That’s a 70 percent increase since 2007.  
  • Half of U.S. households receive government benefits.
  • In many states, welfare pays more than minimum wage.

Such exorbitant federal spending in the face of the debt is shockingly reckless. It is young Americans who will bear the burden of this fiscal irresponsibility — yet many remain clueless!

Most millennials have passionate opinions about social issues like transgender bathrooms, tearing down confederate statues, or gay wedding cakes. But they have little to say about the debt nightmare that’s coming — and it’s coming soon.

It’s easy to see why they remain apathetic; supporting social justice causes feels good. These issues don’t require much effort to comprehend and to give a simplistic about.

But sequestration? Yawn. Budget debates? Meh.

Fiscal issues may be boring to talk about, but if millennials don’t wake up from their apathetic slumber soon, they’re in for a rude awakening.

While the national debt may seem like an abstract issue at first glance, in reality it affects every taxpaying American. More debt means fewer jobs, less economic progress, and lower salaries. This stifled growth is especially hard on young people who are struggling to make ends meet as it already is.  

When a private citizen gets himself into debt, there can be steep punishments including jail time. Simply put, individuals who are fiscally irresponsible face consequences. Why is the federal government not held to the same standards?

Unfortunately, there are no signals from D.C. that the debt problem will be solved anytime soon. Lawmakers love to yap about “paying for tax cuts” but rarely put forward reductions in spending (now that’s a novel idea).

Even President Trump’s budget increased spending significantly.

It’s time to collectively pull our heads out of the sand and get a grip about what’s going on in this country. Blissful ignorance when it comes to the nation’s debt is dangerous. We must demand more from our politicians.

Because ultimately, social issues won't make a bit of difference when we're in an economic depression.

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the the upcoming book “How Do I Tax Thee?: A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off.” She was recently named one of NewsMax’s “30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.