Patrick J. Buchanan writes (abridged):
The U.S. national debt is now larger than the GDP. Only in 1946, the year after World War II, was U.S. debt a larger share of GDP than today.
The questions the U.S. will inevitably face are the ones France faces: At what point does government consumption of the national wealth become too great a burden for the private sector to bear?
While a Republican Congress ran surpluses in the 1990s, when defense spending fell following our Cold War victory, Dwight Eisenhower was the last Republican president to run surpluses.
The five principal items in the federal budget are these: Social Security, which consumes 25% of that budget. Yet, Social Security outlays will reach the point this year where payroll taxes no longer cover them.
Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and other health programs account for another fourth of the budget. All will need more money to stay solvent. Defense, which used to take 9% of GDP in JFK’s time and 6% in Ronald Reagan’s buildup, is now down to 3.2% of GDP.
Yet, while defense’s share of GDP is among the smallest since before World War II, U.S. commitments are as great as they were during the Cold War. We are now defending 28 NATO nations, containing Russia, and maintaining strategic parity. We have commitments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the global war on terror. We defend South Korea and Japan from a nuclear-armed North Korea and China.
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