democracy is a work in progress

National Debt

Problem Brief

Tools2020-07-15T21:03:53-05:00

Tools & Resources

Make your voice heard in government

GovTrack.us enables you to track and learn about legislation proposed in Congress. It can also connect you with your US senators and representative so you can tell them how you feel about the bills that interest you.

VOTE411 was launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) in October 2006. It is a one-stop-shop for election-related information, including responses from state and local candidates to specific questions.

Project VoteSmart provides free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans. It aims to give you the information you need to … vote smart.

Examine Your Budget Priorities

The Debt Fixer is an intuitive interactive tool that challenges you to establish a federal budget that reduces the debt. This is a great tool to examine and balance your priorities for the nation – the trade offs are not always so obvious and the decisions can be hard. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which created the tool, has set up this special link for visitors to The American Leader. At some point, we will share and then regularly update the results.

How old will you be when Social Security’s funds run out? Enter the year you were born to find out what’s in store for you, then design your own fix for social security. Another free tool from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Trade-Offs: Your Money, Your Choices is a tool from the National Priorities Project that gives you clear, pre-defined spending options that you can select as trade-offs in realigning federal budget priorities to what you think they ought to be. It’s not quite so intuitive to use and navigate to an endpoint, but it does a nice job of challenging us to think about some tough choices.

Your Federal Income Tax Receipt is another interactive tool from the National Priorities Projects that shows how your federal tax dollars were spent. It links to the Trade-Offs tool (above) to enable you to “reallocate your tax dollars”.

Charity Navigator offers this list of action and advocacy organizations that support environmental protection and conservation issues. It’s nicely organized and presents budget, program, and historical information on each so you can decide which organization is most worthy of your investment of time and/or money.

Accountability During Crises

COVID Money Tracker, launched by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, says it “will track every significant financial action taken to address the current crisis and then follow the dollars over time to provide valuable information on how much has been disbursed (or paid back) and to whom.”

Stimulus.org was the first effort by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to track stimulus spending by the government during a economic crisis. It now exists for historical purposes and is no longer being updated.

Learn More About the Debt

The Comprehensive Solutions on the Peterson Foundation website introduces the Solutions Initiative, which in 2015 brought together recommendations from five policy organizations across the political spectrum. The Solutions Initiative III summarizes these recommendations and offers charts that make it easy to compare them to each other and to current federal policy.

Federal Government Growth Before the New Deal” offers the perspective of Professor Randall G. Holcombe, who teaches economics at the University of Florida. In his essay, Prof. Holcombe explains that by 1913, the federal government had evolved to be a protector of the nation’s economic well-being. Published on the website of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It is the book by Peter G. Peterson that eventually led to the establishment of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. It was published in 2004.

Related Problems: Climate Change, Infrastructure, Access to Healthcare

Researched and written by George Linzer Reviewed by Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and William Gale

Published on November 5, 2019

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Progress Updates

Debt Fails to Get a Hearing

2020-03-05T19:27:46-05:00November 3rd, 2019|

Through four democratic primary debates, debate moderators failed to ask a single question on the national debt.

Leader Profiles

Ross Perot: Candidate for President

2020-02-17T16:33:03-05:00

In 1992, billionaire entrepreneur Ross Perot put the national debt on the political radar during his third-party campaign for President. At the time, the debt had doubled in a decade to 47% of GDP. Perot believed this to be unsustainable.

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