June 18, 2000
Lowering the Debt for our Kids
Washington, D.C.-Father’s Day is here…an entire day dedicated to appreciating our dads and being appreciated by our kids. It is a good day, I can tell you from experience. Receiving my three kids’ notes and gifts reminds me of how much I want to give to them. I want to offer them the best start in life that I possibly can. And as a nation we can give all of our sons and daughters a huge advantage in their lifetime by working to see that our children and grandchildren are not left with mountains of debt from the generations before.
Right now every person in the United States, including our children, shares in the $5.4 trillion national debt to the tune of $21,148 per person. The federal government has been growing that debt almost since its inception, and has raised the debt ceiling 90 times just since 1940. It has only been in the last few years, when this Congress took over, that numerous efforts have been made to balance the budget, pay down the debt and reverse the trend of a free-spending government. With measures such as the Social Security lockbox, that makes sure money for Americans’ retirement cannot be spent for other programs, and initiatives like putting self imposed caps on budget spending, we have balanced the federal budget for the third year in a row –second year without the use of trust funds–and by the end of fiscal year 2000, will have paid on the national debt for the third year in a row.
What was for so many years unimaginable to Americans has been accomplished by this Congress and now must be built upon. This week, we in the U.S. House passed H.R. 4061, the “Debt Reduction Act of 2000.” It reduces the debt limit for the first time since 1917 and establishes a “Debt Reduction Payment Account” at the Treasury that is separate from the budget. Any non-Social Security surplus dollars from fiscal year 2000 (ending on September 30, 2000) will go directly into this account and be used to reduce the public debt, which makes up approximately $3.5 trillion of the national debt. We are on track to completely pay off the public debt, of which 40% is held by foreign parties, by 2013.
Of course, we wouldn’t even be able to discuss debt relief if we were still running annual budget deficits as we had been until three years ago. Because Congress has restricted the growth in
federal spending and rooted out federal waste, fraud and abuse and because Americans have been earning, saving and investing in the economy, Congress has been able to reduce publicly-held debt by $140 billion in the last two fiscal years while maintaining a balanced budget.
Reducing the public debt is good for the country. It increases national saving and makes it more likely that the economy will continue growing strong. Families benefit through lower interest rates on mortgages and other loans, more jobs, better wages and ultimately higher living standards and a lower tax burden. It also strengthens the government’s fiscal position by reducing interest costs and promoting economic growth. This makes it easier for the government to afford its future budget obligations.
The [financial bailout] would raise the statutory limit on the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $11.3 trillion to make room for the massive rescue.
For an up-to-the-minute update of our National Debt: