National Debt

Celebrate America's Deficit Spending Today!

2012's federal government will spend three-and-a-half month's worth of money it doesn't actually have.


Rewrite for the last line of our National Anthem

Today's the day where America stops spending the money you've given it and instead starts spending the money you haven't given it yet.

Inspired by the Tax Foundation's well-publicized Tax Freedom Day – determined by how many days it takes for your tax commitment to the government to be paid off each year – James R. Harrigan and Antony Davies calculated how many days it takes the government each year to run out of that money and start spending on credit. And today is that day for 2012. They wrote about the process at RealClearMarkets:

If the federal government were to spend the same amount of money each day starting on January 1st, it would run through all of its tax revenue by September 10th. Everything the government spent from then until the end of the year would be on credit.

If lawmakers produced a balanced budget, Deficit Day would occur on December 31st, when the government spent the last dollar of its annual tax receipts at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But we haven't seen a balanced budget since the Eisenhower administration.

The earliest the day has come so far was in 2009, when it hit in early July. That means nearly half of all government spending in 2009 was on credit. The latest it has fallen in recent years was in the last year of President Bill Clinton's administration, where they made it all the way through mid-December before deficit spending began.

Speaking of Clinton, Harrigan and Davies take a dim view of the conventional wisdom that he ran surpluses:

It is true that the debt held by the public-which excludes money the government borrows from the Social Security trust fund-declined by $433 billion from 1997 to 2001. But, over those same years, the government borrowed $827 billion from the Social Security trust fund. In other words, the only way to claim that the Clinton administration ran surpluses is to admit that the government has no intention of paying back that $827 billion it borrowed from Social Security.

Based on that argument it's probably safe to say the government is going to count those surpluses. The authors put the last decade in sharp focus to show how just how much of what the federal government has done this century has not been paid for:

Last year, the government borrowed to pay for 132 days of operations. The year before that, 159 days. Over the past decade, the government had to borrow money to keep itself in operation for a grand total of 1,061 days. That's almost three full years of government that our children and grandchildren will have to pay for-in addition to paying for whatever the government does in the future. It's a devastating blow to their economic freedom and their future welfare.

Drink up to celebrate Deficit Day! Perhaps select a bitter ale watered down and salted with the tears of a non-Keynesian economist. Finding a non-Keynesian economist might be a challenge, but once you do, the tears will probably come easily.

NEXT: Republicans Would Pull The Plug on Amtrak

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  1. I hide all my money in an air mattress to protect it from inflation…

    1. And as a side-effect, you never have to top-up the pressure in the mattress!

  2. Finding a non-Keynesian economist might be a challenge, but once you do, the tears will probably come easily.

    I’d say you can find two of them at George Mason, but I believe Russ just left.

  3. Threadjack. But this isn’t life imitating South Park. This is life being South Park.

    THE youngest of my three daughters was born around the same time I became a card-carrying medical cannabis patient. Even though I was only 44, I’d been suffering from occasional back pain. I also suffered bouts of stress, compounded by anxiety. The causes were unknown, but there seemed to be a correlation with work deadlines and flying coach with three children under the age of 5. Sometimes it got so bad I had trouble falling asleep at night, leaving me groggy and irritable.

    So, in 2010, I resolved to seek medical help. I received a thorough physical examination from my CannaMed doctor, who checked not only my pulse but my blood pressure as well. Examining the results, he concluded that I would benefit enormously from a cannabis-based treatment regimen and recommended that I use a brownie-based form of the drug to avoid the lung irritation associated with other modes of dose administration. I soon had in my possession a shiny, state-sanctioned medical marijuana ID card, gaining me free access to the city’s expanding array of quasi-legal cannabis dispensaries.….._20120908

    Can’t we just legalize this shit already?

    1. who checked not only my pulse but my blood pressure as well.

      I loled.

      1. If the criteria for a proscription is “I can’t stand my brat kids and my job sucks”, the entire country is going on the stuff.

        1. Millions of Americans are already self-medicating, but it would be nice to not have to fear being tossed in prison for simply trying to relax.

  4. Let’s pause at this milestone and remember those good old days of prudent republican leadership.

    “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system”…..arket-prin

    1. Good thing we put Obama, Pelosi and Reid in power to fix all of that.

      1. What’s totally screwed up about our system is that if we want to punish the Republicans, we have to vote for Democrats. That gets really weird when it’s about government spending and/or the economy.

        1. Yes it is. The Democrats going insane post 2000 is a huge problem. There are no viable third parties. And you can’t have a one party Republican state. So Democrats are going to win elections occasionally. That doesn’t have to be a good thing. But it can’t be catastrophic. The country desperately needs the Dems to come to their senses.

          1. The Democrats going insane post 2000 is a huge problem.

            An error? Or perhaps I do not understand the reference: the republicans held the House, Senate and Executive for six years, from 2001 to 2006.

            But anyway, effectively gringolandia is a one-party state.

            1. You don’t understand the reference. The Dems were somewhat moderate in the 1990s. They stopped being so after the Bush Gore election. So instead of getting a Senate Leader like Sam Nun, we got Harry Reid.

              Sure the Republicans deserved to be voted out of Congress in 06. But since the Dems had gone insane, the only way to punish them was to make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House. That is a huge problem. And no amount of team retard “they are all the same” screaming changes it.

        2. 1. Your vote has zero chance of affecting which faction of racketeers wins.

          2. Why give these sociopaths active assent?

          1. I don’t mean me; I mean most voters. I’m voting for some obscure third party candidate in the presidential election.

  5. Presenter: Well now we come on to our special gift section. The contestant is Karl Marx and the prize this week is a beautiful lounge suite. (curtains behind the presenter sweep open to reveal a beautiful lounge suite; terrific audience applause; Karl comes out and stands in front of this display) Now Karl has elected to answer questions on the workers control of factories so here we go with question number one. Are you nervous? (Karl nods his head; the presenter reads from a card) The development of the industrial proletariat is conditioned by what other development?
    Karl The development of the industrial bourgeoisie. (applause)
    Presenter Yes, yes, it is indeed. You’re on your way to the lounge suite, Karl. Question number two. The struggle of class against class is a what struggle? A what struggle?
    Karl A political struggle.
    Tumultuous applause
    Presenter Yes, yes! One final question Karl and the beautiful lounge suite will be yours… Are you going to have a go? (Karl nods) You’re a brave man. Karl Marx, your final question, who won the Cup Final in 1949?
    Karl The workers’ control of the means of production? The struggle of the urban proletariat?
    Presenter No. It was in fact, Wolverhampton Wanderers who beat Leicester 3-1.

    1. Sing, little birdie?

  6. I’m celebrating Deficit Day by buying a hamburger today with your money, which I’ll gladly repay to you on Wednesday. . .Wednesday, September 14, 2935.


      1. It’s true, I verified the date on-line. Something wrong with me.

        1. We can start a support group (since, obviously, I had to go verify it too….)

  7. How amusing that Deficit Day is followed immediately by Patriot Day. If we’re not in the red, the terrorists win.

    1. Constitution Day, which should be a major American holiday, will be quietly ignored again, like the document itself, on September 17.

      1. Come now, Pro L. The Constitution isn’t quietly ignored.

        Its openly defied, and violations of it are celebrated by politicians, apparatchiks, and useful idiots across the land.

        1. I accept correction on this point. Still, the day is quietly ignored, even many times by libertarian magazines and blogs.

    2. What the fuck is Patriot Day?

      1. It’s the day when we celebrate Mel Gibson’s movie, of course.

        1. When’s Apocalypse Day?

          We can celebrate at least two of his movies, that day.

          1. That’s Apocalypse Now Day.

            1. Gibson wasn’t in that one.

              He was in Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Then he directed Apocalypto.

              So three.

              1. No, no, I meant there is no holiday celebrating any of his other films. Not in the U.S., anyway.

      2. It’s known as “rebranding.”

        1. They used to hang rustlers.

          Perhaps we should re-examine our departure from the time-honored tradition of hanging those who do this kind of “rebranding.”

      3. The NFL home opener in New England.

  8. Even if the government were to intend to pay the money back to the Social Security “trust fund”, what the fuck would it pay the debt with?

    Reminiscent of the IOUs in Dumb and Dumber…

  9. I’m glad someone else realizes we never had those surpluses.

  10. In other words, the only way to claim that the Clinton administration ran surpluses is to admit that the government has no intention of paying back that $827 billion it borrowed from Social Security.

    They don’t intend to pay it back. The so-called SS Trust Fund is a fiction. All the money that comes in, regardless of the source, is spent immediately.

  11. That fact that every elected official in the last 50 years is not arrested and tried for malfeasance, fraud, bribery, and misuse of the public treasury is mind-boggling. And sad.

    Yet, the two parties that have a monopoly and continue to get elected.

    I’m starting to believe that the US has the exact government it deserves.

    1. Bingo. The essence of power lies in the existence of excess production; where there is no excess, there can be neither opportunity to rule, nor desire to do so. Where there is, the only question is whether, or to what degree it will be surrendered by the producer. To the extent that it is surrendered, a vacuum of power is produced, which naturally attracts those most qualified to obtain and wield it. That those who are ultimately successful in doing so will represent the most avaricious of men, should be no wonder.

      1. I hereby nominate 0x09 for Nutpunch Of The Year 2012.

  12. All the big banks want to do is screw the people.

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