In the midst of the debate over the government shutdown, which was avoided at the last minute thanks to an agreement between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the Democrats, one of the most resonant topics was the national debt. A Republican congresswoman has threatened to resign at the end of the year if Congress does not create a debt commission before Jan. 1, 2024.
Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2021. Less than a year after winning re-election, she said that she would not have the moral motivation to continue if the federal government continues to increase the burdens on future generations with government debt.
In a statement released on Monday, she said she was tired of trying to improve things only for the Biden administration to continue taking on debt. "I’ve done many very difficult things being one woman standing many times with many very long hours and personal sacrifices, but there is a limitation to human capacity," she began.
Crushing national debt and inflation will destroy opportunities for middle class and lower-income Americans.
— Rep. Victoria Spartz (@RepSpartz) October 2, 2023
"If Congress does not pass a debt commission this year to move the needle on the crushing national debt and inflation, at least at the next debt ceiling increase at the end of 2024, I will not continue sacrificing my children for this circus with a complete absence of leadership, vision, and spine. I cannot save this Republic alone," she added.
What is national debt?
As explained by the treasury secretary, national debt is "the amount of money the federal government has borrowed to cover the outstanding balance of expenses incurred over time," given that when it spends more than it has, it must ask someone for a loan to cover those expenses.
"To pay for this deficit, the federal government borrows money by selling marketable securities such as Treasury bonds, bills, notes, floating rate notes, and Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS). The national debt is the accumulation of this borrowing along with associated interest owed to the investors who purchased these securities. As the federal government experiences reoccurring deficits, which is common, the national debt grows," the agency added.
Taking on debt is "similar to a person using a credit card for purchases and not paying off the full balance each month. The cost of purchases exceeding the amount paid off represents a deficit, while accumulated deficits over time represents a person’s overall debt," they closed.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and one of the country's founding fathers, was especially skeptical of public debt, as he found burdening other generations with debt deeply immoral.
Precisely, one of his most remembered phrases touches on this concept directly. "I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared," he wrote in a letter to William Plumer in 1816.