In a radio interview airing on Sunday, former U.S. Comptroller General and chief of the Government Accountability Office Dave Walker asserted that America’s national debt is over three times the official figure, which dramatically understates the government’s financial commitments.
Walker told host John Catsimatidis of AM-970 in New York, as related by The Hill:
If you end up adding to that $18.5 trillion the unfunded civilian and military pensions and retiree healthcare, the additional underfunding for Social Security, the additional underfunding for Medicare, various commitments and contingencies that the federal government has, the real number is about $65 trillion rather than $18 trillion, and it’s growing automatically absent reforms.
Like other critics of our rapidly inflating national debt, Walker warned it would have serious ramifications for both America’s economic health and national security. He explained:
If you don’t keep your economy strong, and that means to be able to generate more jobs and opportunities, you’re not going to be strong internationally with regard to foreign policy, you’re not going to be able to invest what you need to invest in national defense and homeland security, and ultimately you’re not going to be able to provide the kind of social safety net that we need in this country.
Walker worried that Americans have “lost touch with reality” when it comes to government spending. The political class profits from that sense of unreality, banking on the public’s reluctance to dwell on red ink of incomprehensible debt. Numbers too big for voters to wrap their heads around seem unreal. [...]
We have a political class that lets “budgeting” slide until the last possible moment, counting on a Beltway panic over a prospective “government shutdown” or “default” short-circuit fiscal prudence, leading to the hasty passage of massive spending bills scarcely anyone bothers to read in full. Conservative politicians seriously inclined towards spending restraint are few, and easily trampled by the panicked debt-ceiling stampede. The closest thing to a universal political consensus in Washington is that the big spenders win all shutdown showdowns, no contest. Until that changes, what hope do we really have of avoiding the worst national-debt meltdown scenarios?
We do have hope, and it's found in Article V of the Constitution. An Article V Convention of States can inject some sanity into D.C.’s fiscal policy by proposing constitutional amendments that limit the amount Congress is allowed to tax and spend. These amendments can also shrink D.C.’s jurisdiction, limiting the number of areas in which Congress is permitted to spend money.