You have to love a country that provides the freedom for people to write and wish that you would “die of cancer” because they have seen CAGW’s “Chinese Professor” ad, which portrays the potential consequences of failing to get the national debt under control. So being called “shameless,” “unpatriotic,” and “xenophobic” seems mild by comparison. On the other hand, these comments have been more than offset by others that say “I was tickled pink,” “Please keep showing your ad,” and “Not racism, just a portent of the direction America is traveling and possibly a euphemism to the reality.”
While we welcome constructive criticism, and even the hyperbole, it is time to set the record straight. A 60-second ad cannot include all of the information needed to support its premise. The ad presents a possible, but preventable, future for the U.S.
One place to look for information is The Hill, which published my op-ed this morning. I make the point that China owns “$1.2 trillion – or 26 percent – of the $4.45 billion in U.S. debt held by foreign nations.” The op-ed continues, “There are real consequences to foreign-owned U.S. debt, especially when it is being held by non-democratic countries like China, and oil exporting countries like Libya, Iran, Iraq, and Nigeria, which combined are the fourth largest foreign holders of U.S. debt. Look no further than the nightly news for a taste of how dangerous it is for the United States to be at the mercy of dictatorial regimes. Underscoring this point, in August 2010, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen called the national debt, ‘the most significant threat to our national security.’ What’s more, the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan – the second largest foreign holder of U.S. debt – means that nation will be rightly using more of its resources to address its own needs rather than sending billions of dollars overseas.”
The ad is not about China or its economy or its political system; or any nation other than the United States. If France held the largest portion of foreign-owned U.S. debt, the ad would be in French.
A few facts to consider for those who are screaming (online) about the ad: Foreign holdings make up nearly half – 47 percent – of the country’s obligations, and more than doubled from approximately $2 trillion in 2005 to the current level of $4.45 trillion. For those who believe that CAGW has “taken sides” or is being “partisan” in the ad or elsewhere, note the following in the “Why China?” link on the web page where the ad appears: “Under President George W. Bush, the national debt went from $5.67 trillion to $10.02 trillion in eight years, an increase of 76.7 percent. Under President Barack Obama, the debt had reached $13.56 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2010. It is projected to rise by another $1.65 trillion in the current fiscal year and $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2012, for a total increase of $6.29 trillion, or 62.8 percent, over four years. By the end of fiscal year 2012, the national debt is estimated to hit $16.31 trillion, which will mark a 188 percent increase over the last two administrations.”
The last two not-so-fun facts: First, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that gross interest on the national debt will be $1.149 trillion in 2020, making it the second largest single expenditure in the federal budget; that is only 4 percent less than the $1.196 trillion that will be spent on Social Security. Second, starting in fiscal year 2011 and into the forseeable future, CBO estimates that the gross national debt will exceed the gross domestic product. Again, it’s not about China, it’s about Washington’s long-standing failure to take the steps necessary to prevent a national catastrophe. All of the bloviating and cursing and wishing for our immediate and painful demise won’t change anything; a more productive use of that energy would be to help prevent the “Chinese Professor” from being fact rather than fiction.