Former comptroller general of the U.S. discusses national debt at Cafe Society
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Cafe Society, which hosts a weekly two-hour discussion on Tuesday mornings, listened to former Comptroller General of the United States David Walker discuss his concerns with the national debt during its Nov. 27 meeting in the Robert C. Byrd Center Auditorium.
Walker, who served during the Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton presidencies, has filled other positions since then, but has dedicated himself to drawing attention to what the current and future challenges of the national debt will be, at the rate at which it is escalating. In 2012, Walker was one of several speakers who participated in the nationwide Comeback America Initiative tour, titled the “$10 Million A Minute Bus Tour.”
“I want to start off with a positive statement — we live in arguably the greatest nation of mankind,” Walker said.
“We are great in many things, but not all things. We live in a republic, but republics don’t stand the test of time,” Walker said, comparing the longest republic — Rome — to the U.S. “We have to recognize that arguably the greatest threat to our country is caused internally, by the amount of debt we are creating. It is irresponsible, unethical and in my opinion immoral.
“The federal government has grown too big, promised too much and lost control of the budget. The federal government is 10-and-a-half times bigger than it was in 1912,” Walker said. “We have fiscal cancer. But when you recognize it, you need to change your behavior.”
Although Walker recognized the national debt needs to be immediately addressed, he said he believes the U.S. has a few years before its economy starts paying for the debt incurred. However, the debt would take a lot of effort to work off. According to Walker, the public alone hold $15.8 trillion in debt, which is 78 percent of the GDP.
“You need to understand a fuller and fairer view of our debt. But regardless of which view you choose, they are all going up,” Walker said, mentioning Americans should be concerned about whom they are owing their debts to — the majority of which are owned by China, Japan, Ireland and Brazil. “Whoever controls the money has a lot of power.”
Walker said he believes countries with some debt can be healthy, as long as they are required to balance their budget. But the national debt is far past a healthy rate, and, according to Walker, the only way to deal with it effectively, is for Congress to create legislation to address the issue head-on.
“We have to regain control, if we want a better future,” Walker said. “All but one state has requirements for a balanced budget — the federal government does not.”