Lankford: What do $28 trillion and 1 million years have in common?
The buzz in Democratic circles in Washington, DC, is the constant comparison of President Biden to Franklin D. Roosevelt. A multitude of stories have been written in the national media comparing President Roosevelt’s transformational change to President Biden’s legislative aspirations. But in many of those conversations or articles, there will be a little comment toward the end that says something like, “FDR’s New Deal cost about $856 billion (almost $1 trillion) in today’s dollars, but President Biden is proposing more than $6 trillion in debt spending just this year.”
Our nation is growing debt at a rate never seen in our history. Unfortunately for American taxpayers, they’re just getting started.
Last year, during the heat of the COVID outbreak, we spent $4 trillion to get through the worst of the pandemic economically and physically. The development of multiple effective vaccines, purchase of protective equipment, stabilization of the national economy, and support for medical workers and facilities nationwide sustained our nation through real trauma. Though we are still fighting COVID, we are no longer locked down.
Thankfully, the economy started recovering late in 2020. Now everyone has access to a job and a vaccine if they choose. But in Washington, you would never know it.
In March of this year, Democrats passed a straight partisan bill that spent almost $2 trillion, the vast majority of it was for non-COVID-related spending. Every lobbyist in Washington is pushing for even more spending since the White House is intent on spending historic amounts of money this year. Now, we have a more than $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which has the first steps of the Green New Deal in it and a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure bill” moving through Congress. “Human infrastructure,” which is a recently invented term from my Democratic colleagues, apparently means new entitlements and government assistance for almost every American. “Free money” from the government always sounds good until the bill comes due for the whole nation.
In a typical year the federal government spends about $4 trillion total on everything from Social Security to national defense, but each year for the last two decades we have spent more as a nation than we bring in. That’s deficit spending. In just the last two years, our nation has added $6.5 trillion to the national debt.
For some perspective on how big these numbers really are, 1 million seconds is 11½ days. One billion seconds is 31½ years, and 1 trillion seconds is 31,537 years. These are real numbers with real consequences for our kids and grandkids. Using the same seconds-to-years comparison for our existing $28 trillion total national debt, 28 trillion seconds is 887,852 years: That’s approaching a million years.
Reckless government overspending creates more dependence and higher consumer prices for almost everything. We are already feeling the effects of the massive spending this spring. People have noticed, and they are worried about what happens next.
Oklahomans often catch me as I travel the state and encourage me to continue to oppose deficit spending, oppose raising the national debt limit without real spending cuts and budget reforms, and oppose the massive spending bills that hand out “free money” like it’s free water. Last month, we reached the debt limit as a result of all the reckless spending. I have been clear that we need real solutions to the budget process to get Congress’ overspending under control. The last time Congress passed meaningful reforms to the budget process was 1974, and the last time Congress passed all 12 spending bills before the new fiscal year was 1996.
We are a state that pays our bills. We stand for getting out of debt, and we stand for protecting the right for everyone to earn a better living for their family. We are the state that declares not only “In God We Trust” but also “Labor conquers all things.”
It’s time we start trusting God and get to work on our debt.