Sen. Lankford: We Have to Balance the Budget, Then Chip Away at the Debt

By Ben Kelley | July 28, 2022 | 10:48am EDT
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)   (Getty Images)
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) (Getty Images)

( –   Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) called on Congress to “get serious” about balancing the budget and warned that increasing the national debt further could fuel inflation.

On Tuesday, asked Lankford, “The federal government collected record taxes in the first nine months of this fiscal year, but still ran a $515 billion deficit. Will Congress ever balance the budget?”

Lankford said, “We’ll have to. It’s been an area that I’ve pushed for years -- to be able to get us back to balanced. You’ve got two steps there: you’ve got to get back to balancing in a single year -- that’s no deficit -- and then start chipping away at the debt. That’s the next piece of it.”

“But everybody’s got to get serious about actually having, first, balance in a single year and then to start chipping away at the next step,” he added.

When asked about the long-term risks posed by deficits, Lankford elaborated, “So, you do rising deficit, you’ve got $30 trillion in total debt, you now have more debt than our country produces -- every single person in the country combined doesn’t produce $30 trillion in total income.”

“So, your debt is larger than your total -- it’s called GDP -- when that happens you have an increased chance of inflation, it makes your interest costs larger, and so you continue to cycle where your interest is now so high that your interest is one of the most expensive things we do in government,” said Lankford.

The federal budget is considered to be “balanced” when its spending equals its revenue. If the government spends more than it takes in, it borrows the money needed to make up the “deficit.” This is called deficit spending. 

In the first nine months of this fiscal year (2022), which started on Oct. 1, 2021, the federal government collected a record $3,835,390,000,000 in taxes. However, during that same period of time – October 2021 through June 2022 -- the federal government spent a total of $4,350,457,000,000, creating a deficit of $515,067,000,000. And there are three months left in the fiscal year.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

As of July 26, 2022, the national debt was $30,598,262,922,849.72, according to the Treasury Department. The national debt is the accumulation of federal deficits still unpaid and the interest payments on that debt.

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