In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week called the debt level “a national security threat” that sends “a message of weakness internationally.” The debt, Clinton said, “undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable.”
Her warning is appropriate and comes at a key time, as Congress considers additional tax breaks and the President’s bipartisan fiscal commission works on possible recommendations for later this year. The State Department, meanwhile, is taking over many of the operations in Iraq from the military.
Clinton indicated that the department could become more efficient in some areas. She also urged Congress to set priorities: “Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative, a progressive, whatever you call yourself, there is no free lunch, and we cannot pretend that there is without doing grave harm to our country and our future generations.”
Another warning about U.S. debt comes from The World Economic Forum. It reported last week that large deficits and a weakened financial system have made the United States less competitive. In two years the country has slipped from first in global economic competitiveness to fourth — behind Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore.