It turns out that neither nuclear weapons nor terrorism may be the greatest threat to American prosperity and security. Instead, it may be something we hear very little about in the mainstream media: our burgeoning national debt. Runaway spending on entitlements, bailouts, and stimulus bills are driving the budget deficit upward. As an article in The Washington Times explains, massive government debt may be the force that ultimately overcomes the nation’s ability to be the “master of its own destiny.” Publicly-held debt now stands at $7 trillion, or about $22,000 per person. And it could double in the next ten years, leaving less and less for spending on defense.

In an interview with Politico, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) remarked that the defense budget is getting “sufficiently squeezed,” and he thought the solution may well be cutting back on big-ticket defense items or lengthening their development time. The article also cites a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments analyst who believes there’s no room for the defense budget to grow; in fact, he warns, the interest on the debt may exceed the annual defense budget—for the first time in U.S. history—by fiscal year 2018. The government should focus its spending on those areas which are vital to our national security and slow the pace at which it is increasing the national debt. Let’s hope someone hears and heeds this shot across the bow.

Phillip Reboli currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: