Media's Debt Ceiling Hysteria Ignores How Bonds, Budgets and Taxes Work

If you believe every word uttered by hysterical news anchors and political commentators lately, you would think the world ends August 2nd if the debt ceiling isn't raised.

Not only isn't this true, it's another indication of the press's total ignorance about our nation's budget and/or their willingness to lie to the American people in order to get taxes raised.

Let's start our truth dig by looking at the monthly debt payments so far this fiscal year:

Interest Expense Fiscal Year 2011
May $30,858,726,707.77
April $28,895,123,159.28
March $24,460,282,823.69
February $21,759,253,957.26
January $21,122,729,715.18
December $104,700,174,845.03
November $19,396,316,137.56
October $24,142,491,931.22
Fiscal Year Total $275,335,099,276.99

As you can see, since October, we've made interest payments of $275 billion.

Some press members have suggested that us just making interest payments is some bizarre sleight of hand, but in reality, with the exception of treasuries that are either maturing or being called, interest is by far the greatest monthly expense associated with our debt.

All we have to do is make those interest payments, and our debt remains in good standing.

To give us a better understanding of what this really costs, here are some of the total interest outlays for previous years:

2010 $413,954,825,362.17
2009 $383,071,060,815.42
2008 $451,154,049,950.63
2007 $429,977,998,108.20
2006 $405,872,109,315.83
2005 $352,350,252,507.90
2004 $321,566,323,971.29
2003 $318,148,529,151.51
2002 $332,536,958,599.42
2001 $359,507,635,242.41
2000 $361,997,734,302.36

As interest rates haven't risen this year, we should likely expect our total interest expenses to be close to last year's $414 billion.

Let's now look at our monthly tax receipts (in hundreds of thousands):

FY 2011
October................................................................... 145,951
November............................................................... 148,970
December............................................................... 236,875
January................................................................... 226,550
February ................................................................. 110,656
March ..................................................................... 150,894
April ........................................................................ 289,543
May......................................................................... 174,911
Year-to-Date ........................................................ 1,484,350

Notice how each and every month the amount of taxes we collect far exceeds our interest expense?

So far in fiscal 2011, we have brought in $1.48 trillion in receipts and only made interest payments of $275 billion.

Does it look to you like we're going to have to default on those payments, or that our creditors should be at all concerned about our ability to make said payments?

Quite the contrary, the way our treasury paper has been trading this year, investors don't seem to be at all concerned with America's ability to pay them back. Here's a five year chart of our 10-year Treasury note:

The number on the right axis is interest rate; the bottom is years.

As you can see, our T-notes are currently paying close to their lowest rate so far this year. As bond prices trade inversely to interest rate, this means that investors are willing to pay more for our T-notes today than they were earlier in the year.

This suggests that there not only isn't any panic going on in the credit markets concerning our debt, but that people are more bullish on it than there were just a few months ago.

The same is true for our stock market which after a correction earlier in the year is now approaching recovery highs:

Does it look to you like stock investors are worried about this looming debt ceiling?

Obviously not, for these folks are intelligent enough to understand that our current tax receipts are running about ten percent ahead of last year's. This means we could average for the year about $200 billion per month, and that our total annual debt service is covered by roughly two months of revenues.

This also means that there's enough coming in monthly to pay Social Security and Medicare recipients with absolutely no difficulty.

Consider that last August, we brought in $164 billion in receipts. As it should be equal to or greater than that this year, we will easily afford the roughly $35 billion of interest expense without raising the debt ceiling.

Our monthly Social Security and Medicare outlays in May were $51 billion. Assuming they're close to the same in August, we'd still be left with $78 billion to pay military members, and a variety of other things.

Will we have enough to meet all of our obligations?

Certainly not. Like what's happened in the past, many government employees and contractors would be given IOUs.

BUT, unlike what the Obama-loving media are telling people, we won't have to default on our debt, we won't have to forego payments to America's seniors, and we won't have to hold back the salaries of our military members in the field.

Just imagine how much different this debate would be if our press were actually presenting the truth to the people rather than the hysteria-driving nonsense that's been on display of late.

Readers are advised that all the data in this piece - with the exception of the T-note and stock index charts - came directly from the Treasury Department.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.