I understand why you argue that federal borrowing is not a burden. However, does it matter who receives and who has to make debt service payments in future years? Is there analysis of this?
For example, at first glance it seems that those households who directly or indirectly hold the most US Treasury debt will receive most of the debt service payments. Consider foreign households who directly and indirectly own large amounts of US debt. China and Japan alone hold more than 10% of US debt and pay no US federal taxes to service that debt. If these conditions continue into the future and federal debt levels continue to rise, wealth transfers from US households to Chinese and Japanese households will increase.
A further consideration. Some argue that deficits in recent years are to a considerable degree the result of tax policies that contribute to rising US income and wealth inequality. Some also argue that wealthy households directly and indirectly own more Treasury securities than ordinary households. If true, is it possible that future-generation ordinary households will be making debt service payments to future-generation wealthy US households and foreign debt holders that exceed the benefits that those future ordinary US households receive from greater current US government borrowing?
If there's research on these generational and demographic debt-service wealth transfer questions, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
It's true that environmental degradation and excessive government debt are very different. The environment is physical and debt is financial. But they're similar in several ways.
First, man-made environmental degradation and excessive politically-driven government borrowing can both wreck a society.
Second, both reflect reflect actions living Americans can take without regard for the well-being of future Americans because under our Constitution future Americans will have Constitutional rights when they're alive, but they don't have them now. The Constitution protects the interests of living Americans but not future ones. It's precisely this difference in how the interests of living and future Americans are protected that allows greed-driven living Americans to use lobbyists and political contributions to shape tax cuts, government spending, and environmental laws for their personal benefit.
Third, excessive debt and environmental degradation are both quite permanent. Once the environment is degraded it's extremely costly if not impossible to restore. Once U.S. Treasury debt is issued and the borrowed money spent, it cannot be eliminated. Those government securities are assets in the portfolios of millions of families, institutions, and nations worldwide. It's almost impossible to imagine conditions in which those families, institutions and nations would be willing to forgive the debt. No, they want the U.S. to make interest and principle payments on time without fail. If the U.S. ever does not make those payments, confidence in U.S. government debt will collapse. The result will be financial market chaos.
Many Western economists presume that governments are not very good at identifying industries that merit support, and that domestic consumers and taxpayers incur the bulk of the costs. By the same logic, if Chinese policymakers effectively targeted activities where social benefits exceed private benefits, then it is not clear why foreigners should complain.