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Point of View: Where is concern over national debt?

John Pribyl
John Pribyl

When Barack Obama assumed office in 2009, the national debt was about $10 trillion. When Obama left office in 2017, the debt had nearly doubled to $19.5 trillion. Republicans and conservatives were howling, true to their ideology. As President Trump leaves office, the national debt has ballooned to nearly $27 trillion.

Of course, the absolute dollar amount of debt is essentially meaningless unless it is relatively compared to gross domestic product. In that regard, the debt was about 68% of GDP when Obama entered office and 104% of GDP when he left. As Trump leaves office, the debt is estimated to be about 136% of GDP — the highest percentage of debt/GDP ever in our country.

The overall lack of concern for our national debt is alarming to this Republican.

My social media news feed is filled with “friends” excited about $600 or $1,200 in stimulus money falling from the sky into their bank accounts. Even more are excoriating Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for resisting the president and Democrats’ calls for $2,000 per person.

The same Republicans who have spent the past four years celebrating the return of capitalism and entrepreneurialism under the Trump administration and jeering Socialists such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are now turning a blind eye toward socialist ideology while keeping the other eye on their bank account.

Many people in this country are hurting and suffering due to the pandemic and the associated lockdown. They need help and they need it now. Giving money to those who have seen no displacement, loss of income or jobs is robbing those who truly need assistance. And, the true irony is that many who are cheering the arrival of those checks who are in their 30s, 40s or early 50s may simply be getting, in the form of the “stimulus checks,” the only Social Security benefits they will ever see because entitlement reform is the only way to address the debt crisis. Reduced or postponed Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits along with higher taxes are the only solutions to this debt crisis.

I applaud McConnell and those Republicans who are opposed to the cash payments — cash we do not have — to those who are not in need. It can only be labeled as pandering, or worse, negligence. Let’s make sure the debt our children and grandchildren are going to be servicing for their lifetime is, at least, getting into the hands of those who need it and deserve it.

Pribyl is managing member of JWP Investments, LLC, in Oklahoma City.