Writing today in The National Interest, Institute founder & president Jonathan Bydlak argues that fiscal conservatives have a problem in how we discuss the nation’s spending and debt — specifically, that discussion of the latter crowds out focus on the former.
A friend recently recounted a story that’s as instructive as it is alarming. He told me about a conversation with a mutual friend —an older, conservative lady, well-versed in the dollars and cents of the nation’s finances, who let slip that she wasn’t sure she worried about the national debt anymore.
Specifically, my friend had asked her why the rising debt hadn’t tempered her immense optimism about the current administration. The answer? “I’ve been giving money for decades to these groups who say that a debt crisis is right around the corner, and yet, it’s never come.” Instead, she concluded, “things keep going quite well.”
Of late, it’s become fashionable in many circles to blame President Donald Trump or the Republicans for the increasing lack of fiscal sanity in Washington, but there’s a missing piece to the story that might seem counterintuitive coming from a fiscal conservative like myself. And that reason is we talk about the debt too much. My friend’s conversation illustrates the risks of forever crying wolf at the wrong problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I worry about the national debt, too —probably more so than most people. But there are problems with just focusing on the debt.