Our Opinion: Damage being done

Talk among the politicians in Washington often seems to focus on why the government needs to spend more. If the justification is not national security, it probably will be health care.

There seems to be precious little thought given to a serious, growing threat to both our welfare and security. It is the national debt, which will top $20 trillion within a few weeks.

Let us hope the news on Friday has an effect on the politicians’ priorities. It came from the White House Office of Management and Budget, which reported the federal budget deficit this year is expected to reach $702 billion. That is $99 billion more than was forecast just two months ago.

Under current policies, the deficit during the next fiscal year is supposed to be less, at $589 billion. After years of annual deficits topping $1 trillion under former President Barack Obama, that may sound manageable.

But nearly $600 billion is a lot of money. The projected deficit for this year alone amounts to about $4,900 for every taxpayer in the country. The full national debt comes to about $166,000 per taxpayer.

Notice we did not use numbers for the population as a whole. There is a reason for that: People who do not pay taxes have much less at stake when the government spends money it does not have.

It is unfair to blame apathy about the debt on all members of Congress. Some do consider deficits to be a serious challenge that requires attention.

But they seem to be outnumbered by those eager to put as many entitlements in place as possible and others who do not understand massive defense spending is unsustainable, too.

The debt affects us in many ways — all of them detrimental. Unless getting government spending under control becomes a priority, rather than an afterthought, in Washington, the damage will continue to grow.