Gov. Mitch Daniels: ‘Terrifying Rate’ at Which U.S. Debt Is Accumulating ‘Will Lead to National Ruin’

By Christopher Goins | March 13, 2012 | 6:14pm EDT

In this Feb. 11, 2011 file photo, Gov Mitch Daniels speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

( – Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said Tuesday that the size of the U.S. national debt and the rate at which the debt is accumulating will lead the United States to “ruin” -- and no other outcome is mathematically possible.

“Whether one believes in a large, very active government or something more limited, mathematically, the amount of debt we already have and the terrifying rate at which it is accumulating will lead to national ruin,” Daniels said.

“There’s no other outcome arithmetically possible,” he added.

As of February 2012, according to monthly U.S. Treasury statements, our national debt is $15.48 trillion, about a $130 billion more from the month prior when the national debt was $15.35 trillion.

The Hoosier governor made his remarks in a conference call hosted by No Labels, a group of Democrats, Republicans, and independents "dedicated to making government work again."

Daniels said that Congress has become dysfunctional in terms of dealing with our economic and fiscal situation -- and  picked a “lousy time” to become dysfunctional, since the United States has never faced “a non-military danger or threat as large as the one we face today.”

Daniels said that when addressing the problem of the national debt and trying to level with audiences, he usually asks them to put ideology aside for the moment and focus on the math surrounding our national debt – something he said no longer “works.”

“Look, let’s put the ideological debate off (to) tomorrow,” Daniels said. “You know, for today, can we agree that the math here does not work?”

Mathematically speaking, Daniels said, it all breaks down.

“There is absolutely no way” that cutting or taxing our way out our fiscal problems are the solutions. Instead, we need a private economy that grows much faster, and meaningful entitlement reform, Daniels said.

Daniels said it is possible for the U.S. to go past the point of no return, which he described as a point “in which we are so indebted and so bankrupt that the mortgage payments eats all the dollars we need to put people to work.”

Daniels said it was very “disturbing” to him that “there are a lot of people” in the United States “who have come to the conclusion that there is now a flaw in the American character” and that “we are not people capable of governing ourselves as the system has always contemplated.”

“Too many people are dependent on the compulsory charity of others through the government,” Daniels said.

“Too many people are simply selfish and short-sighted. They don’t want to hear about the fact that they will make life much less promising for their children in the future,” he said.

“And they can easily be appealed to by demagogues who just say to keep doing nothing,” he added.

Daniels said he didn’t believe the American people are dysfunctional, but said Congress is engaged in practices that make agreement and decisive action nearly impossible.

Admittedly, Daniels said, those who believe in much more expensive, intrusive, and bigger government – although possibly very sincerely -- will have much more at stake than anyone in an effort to lay out a program that encourages the growth of the private economy.

“We’ve got policies right now which, I’m sure good-intentioned, are choking, strangling, and obstructing growth in almost every way one can name,” Daniels said, adding that “that is very self-defeating.”

The Hoosier governor also stated what recommendation he would offer to the next president as the “first order of business” once in office.

“We’ve simply got to say ‘We’ve got to unite to save the safety net,’” he said. “Social Security and Medicare are great programs but they are geriatric themselves at this current age and they need some repair.

“We can leave them as they are for people who are reliant on them or soon to be, but it would be a heartless thing to let them continue on and implode, which is the path they’re on, wrecking the economy and the American dream and not providing the security that the next generation deserves when it comes to retirement.”

Daniels did not provide any specifics on how to fix Social Security and Medicare. He did, however, say that the 2010 Bowles-Simpson report [of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, led by Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.)] was “the best attempt anybody has made” to tackle American fiscal problems, adding that he wished President Obama, who commissioned the group, embraced the report “not in every particular but as a starting point.”

“I think we’d be so much closer to national survival right now,” he said.

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