U.S. Debt Could Reduce U.S. Global Influence in the Future
Sep 16, 2013
High debt threatens future U.S. economic growth and constrains the ability of the government to act in pursuit of national interests. The authors examine the effects on the nation's ability to wield the economic instruments of U.S. power and to shape global conditions through other than military means.
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The United States faces a dilemma. A persistently high level of government debt threatens future economic growth and constrains the ability of the government to act in pursuit of national interests, both international and domestic. Yet efforts to bring down the debt will further constrain government outlays and action — possibly for many years into the future. It has been asserted that the U.S. national debt constitutes the nation's biggest security threat, most obviously because of the effects on military spending and therefore on military strategy. The authors look at the current U.S. financial situation and its effects on the nation's ability to wield the economic instruments of U.S. power and to shape global conditions through other than military means. Noting that history suggests countries seldom grow their way out of burdensome debt, the authors stress that it will be necessary to increase government revenues or constrain expenditures. While there is undoubtedly room to increase government revenues, spending restraint will also have to play a major role. Constraining entitlement spending will minimize the need to reduce outlays that contribute directly to U.S. international influence — defense, international representation, and assistance — and that create future productive capacity — investments in infrastructure, research and development, and education. Unfortunately, current legislation is exactly the reverse of this. Preserving U.S. international influence will require a different approach.
A Brief History of U.S. Public Finances
Government Debt and U.S. Defense Spending
Fiscal Performance and the Economic Instruments of International Influence
Debt and Keeping the Nation Strong
What Might have happened
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