Friday, January 13, 2023




I believe that polling has long shown broad support for a balanced budget and for a balanced budget amendment at the federal level. (Most states already have such a requirement.) Rasmussen’s findings on Congress’s latest debtravangza are consistent with that history:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 76% of Likely U.S. Voters are concerned about the size of the U.S. national debt – now more than $31 trillion – including 53% who are Very Concerned. Only 21% are not concerned about the size of the debt.

Back in 2010 or 2011, we conducted the Power Line Prize contest for artistic productions on the peril posed by the national debt. Our $100,000 grand prize drew hundreds of offerings: videos, songs, paintings, screenplays, and more. Many of them were excellent, and as the top ten were unveiled one at a time, they drew millions of views across the internet. The contest was a great success, but it failed to have any impact on the national debt.

As to the $1.7 trillion “omnibus” inflation act passed by the lame duck Democrats in Congress:

Forty-five percent (45%) of voters approve of the new spending bill, including 24% who Strongly Approve. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove, including 37% who Strongly Disapprove of the spending bill.

Which implies that a considerable number who say they are concerned about the national debt nevertheless approved the omnibus bill. More:

Former President Donald Trump denounced the $1.7 trillion spending bill as a “monstrosity” and a “disaster for our country.”

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters agree with that description, including 45% who Strongly Agree. Thirty-two percent (32%) disagree, including 19% who Strongly Disagree.

Which means that some who say the Democrats’ bill was a “disaster for our country” nevertheless approved of it.

What I want to know is, how serious are people who tell pollsters they are concerned about our rapidly ballooning debt? Currently it stands at $31 trillion. At 4% interest, debt service on that amount will be around $1.24 trillion annually. That is 5 percent of our gross domestic product of $25 trillion. Total federal spending is about $5.8 trillion. As recently as 2000, total federal spending was $1.77 trillion.

If Americans really care about deficit spending, do they show it at the polls? Not that I can remember. A lame duck Democrat Congress had no compunction about ramming through another $1.7 trillion in spending, which was backed by zero tax dollars and zero incremental production of goods and services. It was inflation, pure and simple. The Democrats must have understood this, but they evidently did not fear retribution at the polls. And I am afraid they are right.

If the new Republican majority in the House–assuming it manages to hold itself together–succeeds in tamping down deficit spending and slowing the growth of the debt, will it be rewarded in 2024? I hope so, but frankly I doubt it. When it comes to the deficit, voters’ actions speak louder than their words.

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