In 1961, we paid $9 billion in annual interest on a national debt of $290 billion. The figure in 2010 is up to $413 billion. That's interest, not a reduction in the principal. The Congressional Budget Office says that by 2021 interest payments will reach $1.1 trillion a year. That's 1.5 times what we spend on national defense.
By 2046 every dime we take in tax money will be spent on interest payments if we don't put a stop to it now. The future of everything for which this country stands at risk, and Standard and Poor's has now downgraded our creditworthiness.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility report has been out since December. It offers a concrete plan to address our fiscal woes and represents a bipartisan approach. Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has a plan as well, as does President Obama.
Both sides find fault with all three proposals because each proposes cuts not palpable for their own interests. Cuts in spending, increases in taxes and modifications to entitlements all are on the table in various forms.
Now is it possible our politicians can sit down and practice the true political art of compromise? With three plans on the table, certainly we should be able to take the best parts and hammer out a plan that results in a budget and future course of action that gets us on the road to recovery without smoke and mirrors.
Hopefully our leaders and all of us recognize we have to increase taxes, cut spending, adjust Medicare/Medicaid and modernize Social Security to accomplish these goals. As we did in World War II, all should share the pain and sacrifice something for the common good.
Are we prepared to do it? Our future generations will have to live with decisions we make now.