In 2009 about 40% of income taxes will go towards debt interest payments
By LAWRENCE KADISH
If you think those town hall meetings over health care were fierce, wait until Americans come to understand the threat to our national financial survival posed by the interest on the government's credit card.
When the government spends more than its revenue, there is a budget deficit. These deficits are paid for by Washington selling interest bearing Treasury securities. If the government were ever to default on its promise to pay periodic interest payments or to repay the debt at maturity, the United States economy would plunge into a level of chaos that would make the Lehman bankruptcy look like a nonevent.
It is the interest on the national debt that makes our future unstable. The exploding size of that burden suggests that, short of devaluing the dollar and taking a large bite out of the middle class through inflation and taxation, there is no way to ever pay down that bill.
As of Sept. 30, 2009, the national debt was almost $12 trillion and interest on that debt was $383 billion for the year, according to the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Public Debt. The Congressional Budget Office on Oct. 7 estimated the 2009 budget deficit to be almost $1.4 trillion (about 10% of GDP). In August, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimated total government revenues at about $2 trillion. The revenue estimate included $904 billion from individual income taxes. This means the cost of interest on the debt represented more than 40 cents of every dollar that came in from individual income taxes.