According to the latest figures from the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will spend $1.2 trillion more than it takes in this year. The government, in other words, will have to borrow nearly a third of the roughly four trillion dollars ($4,000,000,000,000) it spends. The extra trillion-plus dollars the government borrows will have to be repaid, with interest, by Americans who have not been born yet.
To put that in context, the government spent less than $16 billion in the entire nineteenth century, as shown by this handy spreadsheet of revenues and spending from the Office of Management and Budget. During that hundred year period the government fought four major wars and several smaller ones.
The government didn’t make massive welfare payments in those days, but no one expected it to. The “federal” government was truly federal in the nineteen hundreds, and it fulfilled its Constitutional duties well enough to allow America to rapidly become the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
Today the government borrows more money every five days than it spent in the entire nineteenth century. The total national debt is currently $15.5 trillion, and is increasing by the minute. Even if the government were to cut its spending enough to balance the budget right now, the unborn would still be expected to pay off a debt a thousand times bigger than the sum total of federal government spending during the nineteenth century.
The American Revolution was inspired largely by the slogan “taxation without representation is tyranny.” Today the level of taxation that the government is imposing on the unborn is vastly larger than the taxes that drove the Founders to rebel against England.
The difference is that our future generations can’t do anything about the taxes we and our representatives are imposing on them. By the time they are born, they will already have been taxed.