The Government Accountability Office has issued a new report looking at a dozen issues and trends that could affect the nation in the next four years. Among the topics: how our expanding national debt threatens stability:

An unsustainable fiscal path strains the federal budget and contributes to growing debt.

CBO reported high & rising federal debt

    • increases the likelihood of a fiscal crisis and
    • could lead to a large drop in the dollar’s value or a loss of confidence in the government’s ability or commitment to repay its debt in full.

Rising debt could also cause policymakers to feel constrained in their capacity to support the economy during downturns or unexpected events.

Bottom line: the debt is a huge problem, and it has profound long-term consequences.

That’s nothing new to the few remaining fiscal hawks in government. Breaking government’s spending addiction will take either a major shift in sentiment – among both elected officials and their constituents – or a profound and lasting fiscal crisis.

In the first case, we have control over events. In the latter case? Events control us.