$22,000,000,000,000 and (no one’s) counting

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No one gives a shit anymore; after all, what’s another trillion between bipartisan friends?

 The national debt surpassed $22 trillion for the first time on Tuesday, a milestone that experts warned is further proof the country is on an unsustainable financial path that could jeopardize the economic security of every American.

The Treasury Department reported the debt hit $22.012 trillion, a jump of more than $30 billion in just this month.

The national debt has been rising at a faster rate following the passage of President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax-cut package a little more than a year ago and as the result of congressional efforts to increase spending on domestic and military programs. The nation has added more than $1 trillion in debt in the last 11 months alone.

“Reaching this unfortunate milestone so rapidly is the latest sign that our fiscal situation is not only unsustainable but accelerating,” said Michael A. Peterson, chief executive officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization working to address the country’s long-term fiscal challenges.

Once, one side of politics cared about such things as government spending, budget deficits, government debt and fiscal management, or at least pretended quite convincingly that it did. The other side didn’t care and didn’t pretend. Now neither cares nor pretends. These are the results.

Australia’s gross national debt has well passed half a trillion dollars by now (up from zero just over ten years ago, bequeathed by the Howard/Costello government). Even the net debt is now north of $350 billion and has doubled under the Coalition governments of the past five plus years. This is an amount that is so large that it’s unlikely to ever get paid off, even if a government one day actually starts again caring about this underhanded wealth transfer from the future to the current generations.

Of the developed countries, only the Baltic tiger Estonia has its government debt kept to under 10 per cent of the GDP. For Australia it is 41.5 per cent – and for the United States 107 per cent.

A few decades ago people used to say that now we’re all Keynesians. But Keynes himself only advocated deficit spending during a recession, to be balanced out by budget surpluses accumulated during good economic times. Clearly, we’re all half-Keynesians now, like half-bulimics stuck in an endless binge cycle. Meanwhile, I just want to vomit.

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