Currently the US is now over $15 trillion in debt. [1] The national debt has now gotten to the point where it is larger than US GDP and is now unpayable. In response to this crisis, many in government have been arguing for austerity measures, yet they have not been using that actual term, rather there has been an argument for deep cuts in social spending, with one example being Paul Ryan’s budget proposal which targets mainly the poor and elderly. The debt crisis may very well lead the US to being forced to choose from two poisons, austerity on one hand and default on the other. 

Austerity measures are currently being pushed by the intellectual elite. Niall Ferguson argues that the main problem in Western democracies “is the huge debts we have managed to accumulate in recent decades, which - unlike in the past - cannot largely be blamed on wars” and poses the question “[W]ould young people be wise to encourage politicians to pay-off national debts now to avoid an even more miserable financial future?” [2]

In the US,
Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Neel Kashkari, states that the US should “stop kicking ‘the can down the road’ and implement fiscal austerity measures so the economy can fully recover from the financial crisis.” [3] While Ferguson states that the debt “cannot be blamed on large wars,” the facts prove him to be incorrect as during the Clinton Administration there began a decrease in the national debt and ended with the US being in the black. [4] When President Bush came in, the US went back deeply into debt and this debt increase can be blamed mainly on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.