Currently, the U.S. national debt is at a record high, thanks to government spending and decreased revenue from 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
And while business leaders welcomed the tax cuts, there’s growing concern that increased government spending, the trade wars and growing national debt will lead to long-term structural weaknesses in the economy.
The rate on U.S. Treasury bonds is linked to the interest rates for consumer loans — car loans, student loans, mortgages. If those rates go up too high, people will stop spending, which will harm businesses that rely on lending. It also equates to less disposable income for other items, which also hurts businesses.
Don’t forget — foreign investors own half the U.S. debt. Right now, they like the favorable terms, but if that changes, it could also affect the national economy.
As the economy slows down, we’re already seeing layoffs at major car manufacturers. As the trade wars heat up, we’ll see more. And the national debt only adds to slower business growth, fewer jobs and increased chances of the next downturn.
In the short term, the tax cuts benefited businesses. But further stimulating an already-stimulated economy means the government has few tools left in its toolbox should we see a repeat of 2008.
And instead of fiscal restraint, Congress and the Trump administration are engaged in a reckless bet with the future of the nation’s businesses. After the tax cuts passed, Congress approved a $300 billion spending package and suspended limits on the nation’s borrowing.
If we do embark on a $1.5 trillion federal infrastructure plan — and virtually no one is arguing we don’t need it — we’ll borrow even more money. And we’ll do it at the expense of businesses that will see increased interest rates and less disposable income.
Fiscal conservatives need to speak up. We need to examine the long-term effects of a combined large national debt and tariffs on imported goods. We need to find ways to spend responsibly, take care of the less fortunate among us (those homeless because of ever-higher housing prices, for instance) and create jobs.
In the long term, neither the trade wars nor the burgeoning national debt will be good for the American economy. We must make tough decisions now so we don’t face another Great Recession. Too many businesses that survived the 2008 downturn won’t survive another one.
Call on Congress to act now to protect necessary programs and institute fiscal reform that will continue the economic progress we’ve seen so far. And don’t do it on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans. Cutting programs like Medicare or Social Security is not the answer. The answer is a responsible Congress and a responsible president who do more than just pay lip service to fiscal restraint.
End the trade wars, which are already hurting local businesses, and consider economic actions that reduce the national debt. Let the Federal Reserve do its job. Congressional leaders must act for the future of the country, not for short-term political success.