Robert J. Samuelson’s Feb. 12 op-ed, “Let’s not test the deficit line,” suggested that we don’t know how much federal debt is too much. In searching for an answer to that question, it might be useful to consider the European Union’s fiscal standards for membership: a maximum of 3 percent of gross domestic product for the annual deficit and 60 percent of GDP for total debt.
The combination of the recent tax cut and spending legislation is widely expected to increase our current $21 trillion total debt to the tune of $1 trillion per year compared with a current U.S. GDP of approximately $19 trillion. So we are already exceeding the E.U.’s total debt standard, and we will exceed the annual deficit standard in 2018.
Considering how disdainful the United States has been of Greece and other countries that have been unable to meet these benchmarks, it is sobering to realize that we are in this category, too.
Wayne McDaniel, Columbia