Who’s afraid of our national debt?

The national debt is a frequently discussed topic in the news. It has become so common that many people may simply shrug their shoulders and think to themselves, “What can I do about it?” When I read the headline for the attached article, a line from the Harry Potter movie series came to mind. Ron Weasley asks Harry, “Can we panic now?” while they are being chased by spiders.

The current U.S. national debt is in excess of $34 trillion. Stacey Vanke Smith’s op-ed “Who’s Afraid of Our National Debt” featured on Marketplace in January of this year, suggested that it may be more useful to put that number into an economic context: $34 trillion is larger than the Chinese economy. If we add the economies of Japan, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom, their combined total is about $34 trillion a year. The $34 trillion is also larger than our own economy. The United States’ gross domestic product (GDP), which is the sum total of all the goods and services produced in a year, is about $27 trillion.
Rachel Snyderman, the director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said, “What this really shows is that the United States likes spending money more than it likes bringing in revenues.”

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