Bolton: National Debt Constitutes “Economic Threat”

John Bolton is President Trump’s National Security Advisor. While speaking at an event hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington D.C. on October 31, 2018, he weighed in on the national security implications of the U.S. government’s budget deficit and the national debt:

“It is a fact that when your national debt gets to the level ours is, that it constitutes an economic threat to the society. And that kind of threat ultimately has a national security consequence for it.”

Bolton went on to describe how the White House will seek to deal with the threat:

“In the near term, the budget deficit problem is in the discretionary spending. The entitlements come in a few years and that problem’s going to have to be addressed. But right now, you can have significant impact on both the deficit and the national debt by cutting government spending on the discretionary programs.”

For national security, that will mean scaling back the growth of defense spending that President Trump initiated, forcing it to “flatten out” as part of the White House’s effort to establish greater fiscal discipline over the government’s spending to reduce the economic threat that Bolton perceives.

In the recently completed 2018 fiscal year, the U.S. government collected slightly more money than it did in 2017, even with President Trump’s tax cuts, while federal spending, enabled by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, increased by 3.2% over the previous year. Consequently, the increase in spending accounts for virtually all of the year over year increase of $113 billion in the government’s annual budget deficit from the level of the deficit recorded in 2017. At $779 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, the deficit was equal to about 3.9% of the U.S. economy’s gross domestic product.

Without action to restrain the growth of U.S. government spending, the U.S. government’s budget deficit is projected to push around $1 trillion in 2019.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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