- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Republicans are searching for concessions to propose for agreeing to increase the national debt limit. The current limit is $14.3 trillion, which is also on the order of our gross domestic product. I hope Congress adopts a process that encourages the eventual payoff of the national debt.

For example, Congress could enact a law to this effect: If the national debt does not decrease by at least 2 percent of GDP, then no increase in federally funded direct payments to individuals would be permitted during the following year. Direct payments would include employee salaries, retirement income and Social Security payments. This provision also could prohibit cost-of-living increases because of inflation.

While such a measure would have only a small impact on individual Americans, hopefully it would be sufficient to motivate voters to push Congress to reduce debt and avoid catastrophic default. Annual debt reduction of about $300 billion should be feasible with an annual federal budget of more than 10 times that amount.

Consistently cutting debt a minimum of 2 percent of GDP each year would place us on track to eliminate our debt over several generations. If that happened, my yet-to-be born grandchildren could see the proportion of their taxes spent on interest payments actually decline as our national debt is paid off.

MARK GALLAGHER

Fredericksburg, Va.

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