UPDATE: Going through the comments, I see many taking issue with our defense spending. It looks high because it is roughly the combined amount of our 2 biggest neighbors and one-third of our budget. Politically it is extremely unwise for any opposition to take up this issue because they are not defense experts and all male citizens are part of defense force and it can be argued that deserve the best equipment/weaponry to win if the need arises. Unless the reasons are clear and compelling, the opposition should try to win on other issues. My opinion? My main worry is the ex-general politicians of which we have many which will bias us to a hawkish stance and spend more than we need on defense - but there is opacity in this area so we won't know and will never know. In the long run, spending too much on defense will weaken us instead of strengthen our defense. While we spend billions on weapons, we have also brought in so many foreigners who now form 36% of our population (more if you count newly minted citizens). The first thing that will happen is we will see the population hollowed out at the 1st sign of trouble - the negative psychological impact of this is tremendous - the other 60% are suppose to stay on risk their life and fight? The Kuwaiti experience tells us at the end of the day what matters is that people and psychology plays a more important role than weapons - the Kuwaiti defense force on seeing the foreign population hollowed out and leaving put up only token resistance against the invading Iraqi forces.
During Bill Clinton's presidency, the US govt debt shrunk relative to GDP and it was projected to go down in the coming years. When Bush took office, he cut the taxes of rich and allowed the debt to grow. The unnecessary Iraq war added an extra $1T to the debt. The crisis forced the US govt to borrow somemore to bailout the banks to avoid economic disaster.
If I am an American, I will be damn angry. Little of recent increase in debt was used to help the ordinary folks. Most of it went to wars, bank bailouts and tax cuts for people who didn't need it. Now they are debating vigorously over a healthcare bill costing $900B over ten years that will help millions of Americans.....
The growth of the public debt accelerated after 80s when the US govt started cutting down on welfare so welfare was not the cause of this debt. If the US sinks because of this massive debt, it because they spent on unnecessary tax cuts, defence and bank bailouts.
Countries rarely (never?) go bust helping its citizens - name me one state that has gone bust due to welfare spending. Iceland went bust because of its banks and many went bust spending on defence. In an article in the SPIEGEL, "Can Countries Really Go Bankrupt?" most common reasons for state bankruptcy has been fighting wars and banking system failures as in the Asian crisis. The lesson for us is this - continue to regulate our banks closely, strengthen our financial system, keep defense spending down, maintain good relations with our neighbors and understand that tax cuts are not always beneficial in the long run...these are things that are important. Scrutinising the nickels and dimes given out to the poor while taking big risks with state reserves and taking huge losses, simply makes no sense....