News - Bill's Blog

Does our national debt threaten our national security, or vice versa?

February 14, 2018

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified in a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting on Tuesday.  He called the national debt a ‘dire threat’ to national security. The story has gained widespread traction in the media and on the Internet.

It’s a good thing, in one way, raising awareness about what Coats and many others call our “unsustainable” fiscal path. And nobody wants to undermine national security, right?

On the other hand, it’s usually useful to examine assertions of causation backwards. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Is it possible that our national security, and the rapid growth in spending, also threatens our national debt? And how well do we account for the costs of our national security, in light of decades of auditor disclaimer opinions on DoD financial statements?

If our fiscal path is indeed unsustainable, could warnings about the threat of our national debt also be grounded in efforts by special interest groups to carve out their piece of an unsustainable pie?

For that matter, might our national security sometimes threaten our national security? And inspire calls for higher spending?

Speaking of sustainability, stay tuned tomorrow, when our federal government is slated to release the annual Financial Report of the U.S. Government. In the last couple decades, the references to "sustainability" (or lack thereof) have been soaring higher in this document.

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