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The 20 Trillion Foot Grave

Matthew Drachman, Staff Writer

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The United States of America is a country that has made history throughout the centuries, and is still making history today.  The United States has had the longest standing constitution in the world, we put a man on the moon, survived a bloody civil war, and many more great things.  In this pass month we have made history again, but not in the way that previous examples had and not in the way the United States had ever intended.  In this past month the United States’s Federal Government is now more than twenty trillion dollars in debt, and still growing at almost seven million dollars a hour.

Now you may ask yourself, how did the national debt get to be so high?  The national debt has been built over time by federal government’s federal deficit.  A deficit is how much more you are spending than you are making, currently the United States is spending almost 691 billion dollars more yearly than what we make in a year.  This massive deficit had started near the Bush Jr.  Administration and has since been inherited by both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Now hearing that number you may ask, what are we spending an extra 688 billion dollars on?  Well to answer that you need to understand the full U.S. Federal Budget which consist of more than 4 trillion dollars.  Currently the biggest item on the budget is the social programs of Medicaid and Medicare, consisting of more than 1.1 trillion dollars that the federal government throws at it.  The second biggest budget item is Social Security (the social program that helps folks retire), with it being around 938 billion dollars.  The third largest item is the military budget, consisting of about 633 billion dollars.  The rest is spent on various things including the interest on the U.S. national debt, that being the 5th largest item on the budget.

Now lets compare that to how much the United States makes a year.  The United States annually makes about 3.3 trillion dollars a year.  The way this money is raised is through federal taxes, consisting of taxes such as income tax, corporate taxes, and payroll taxes which those three make up the largest income for the budget.  This is the base for the U.S. federal budget, but as we have thus far discussed, this is sometimes ignored.

Now when asking many people about the number 20 trillion, some students were shocked.  One such student that I had asked named. Matthew C. Nelson, stated that the number was “Ridiculous” and “Needed to be dealt with.”  Another student stating, “That’s stupid, why is it there.”

Now you may ask yourself, ‘How can this be fixed?”  Many solutions have been proposed and talked about throughout the years since “America’s Debt Crisis” has begun.  A contributor to Prager University, Michael Tanner, explained two possible solutions to help the budget get back on the right track.  The first solution being to raise revenue to adjust for our spending (raising taxes and other sources of revenue), the other being to cut our spending to balance our with our revenue (Cut money going to programs such as healthcare and defence).  However, the first step in solving any problem is to first recognize that it is one and it will affect all of us.  Remember those students that were mentioned above?  They were the exception, many students were unsure how they felt, some not knowing what the national debt was, and others just didn’t care.  One student named Logan Haslam told me, “I don’t think about it.”  Another student named Chelsea Criddle stated, “I don’t know what that is.”  Finally a student summed it up perfectly, Jayden Leisure told me, “I don’t care”.  If we don’t fix this problem soon and fast, we may dig us a grave that we may never get out of.  We must be quick now, because that hole keeps getting 7 million dollars deeper every hour that goes by.

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The student news site of Riverton High School in Riverton, Utah
The 20 Trillion Foot Grave