George Will, in trying to make a truly "horrifying" point about the federal debt, unwittingly makes a point that many macroeconomists say is in fact a rather comforting one. To wit: "[T]he biggest purchaser of U.S. government debt is not China but ... the U.S. government, largely through the Federal Reserve."
We are meant, upon reading that line, to recoil in virginal repugnance, or to slump in exposed betrayal, or at the very least to tsk-tsk the contemptible liberal disinformation campaign about the debt's real patron (even though it is Mr. Will's conservatives--far more than liberals--who have ruthlessly hustled the lie that it is wicked China that keeps us afloat). But rather than recoil, we should rejoice and be thankful, for what Will is actually saying is that We owe the money to ourselves.
And that's a pretty nifty deal. When the notes (i.e., debt) come due, the Fed (i.e., we) simply renews them. In other words the U.S. is scarcely like, say, Greece, whose creditors are both external and increasingly hostile. Also unlike Greece, the U.S. has its own currency and oodles of stuff to export and an easier time of exporting the stuff--because it has its own currency. And, again, its own bloody debt. Pretty nifty.
Yet what's nifty to many of us is horrifying to Will and what's horrifying to many of us is pretty nifty to Will. Once more to the wit: "[W]hat supposedly is horrifying is a sequester that would cut less than 3 percent of federal spending over the next decade?" As a conservative, Will is amused by the relative impotence of the "cliff's consequences." Or at least that's how Will begins his column. Toward its end, he seems philosophically appalled by the cliff's consequences: "[A]s this column has hitherto noted, the cliff’s consequences — huge tax increases and defense cuts — are progressivism’s agenda."
Another of Will's points today is that language can be diabolically dumbdowning when misused by disingenuous, propagandistic types. Yep, that's another of his points. Pretty nifty.