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Sen. Mike Lee: Get ahead of US debt before it gets ahead of us

U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Released)
February 03, 2023

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is calling for the U.S. to take action to slow its debt spending now before the interest payments alone become too much for the U.S. to handle.

“Our $31 trillion-plus national debt is so much larger than our economy that we’re having a difficult time keeping up with it,” Lee said in a Sunday interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.

Last week, the U.S. hit its $31.4 trillion debt limit and the U.S. Treasury has been taking so-called “extraordinary measures” to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on any debt payments. Those extraordinary measures are set to run out in June, after which the U.S. could face a debt default.

Republicans in Congress have been calling for pairing budget reforms with any new agreement to raise the debt. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and many of his fellow Democrats have called for raising the debt limit without any additional conditions.

Lee said if the U.S. simply continues to spend at the current rate it will be overwhelmed by the interest payments.

“In just a few years, we’re going to see our national interest on debt skyrocket from around $400 billion a year to well over a trillion a year, and we don’t have that kind of money to cover that and everything else too,” Lee said. “So if we don’t get ahead of this now, it’s going to get ahead of us, and we’re all going to suffer as a result.”

In a Jan. 18 White House Press Conference, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated Biden’s demands for a so-called “clean” bill to raise the debt limit. Jean-Pierre said Republicans are “trying to hold the debt limit hostage unless they can, again, cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid.”

“The President has been clear: He will not allow Republicans to take the economy hostage or make working Americans pay the price for their schemes to benefit the wealthiest Americans and also special interests,” Jean-Pierre added.

Lee said the issue of addressing the massive U.S. debt shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

“Over time, Republicans and Democrats acknowledge, in like terms, that the national debt is a problem. Way back in 2006, when our national debt was a tiny practice of what it is now, then-Sen. Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling,” Lee said.

“This isn’t necessarily a Republican or Democrat issue, it is simply an American issue; and we’re fighting for the people on this,” Lee added.

Lee is among a group of Senate Republicans including Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) who have demanded Biden come to the negotiating table to address the national debt.

“Republicans would have to give up the sacred cow that says, ‘We will never touch a dollar in military. And the Democrats would have to give up the sacred cow that they will never touch a dollar in welfare,’” Paul said. “When you make the cuts across the board, they aren’t as big as you actually think they would be.”