In raising the national debt limit this week past the one-trillion-dollar mark, the Senate is only doing what it must do. For if the stern visage of Uncle Sam means anything it is that a nation no less than an individual must meet its obligations. But the figure boggles the mind. One trillion dollars! And, if one trillion dollars today, can a quadrillion dollars be far down the road? So asks Senator Proxmire, who waged his own (futile) miniprotest on the debt hike with a 16-hour Senate talkfest.
Yes, the debt is considerable. However, as a proportion of the US gross national product, it is actually shrinkingm -- now at about 35 percent of GNP, compared to 130 percent at the end of World War 11.
Still, as PResident Reagan reminds his fellow Americans, there is the stark symbolism of all that indebtedness -- a constant and uncomfortable reminder that the government is shelling out more than it is taking in. The urgent task is to reverse that pattern.