National Financial Capability Month: Is President Obama Setting a Good Example?

Romina Boccia /


Last week, the President declared April 2013 National Financial Capability Month in an effort to encourage Americans to budget responsibly.

This is a commendable goal. However, with the President’s budget more than two months late, it’s worth considering how the President is managing the nation’s finances:

The example the President’s record sets is concerning, but what’s even more troubling is that the President’s failure to successfully manage the nation’s finances makes it more difficult for the very same individuals and families he is targeting with National Financial Capability Month to accomplish stable family finances in their own households.

High public debt threatens to drive interest rates up, crowd out private investment, and raise price inflation. These effects will have severe implications for all Americans, but the poor, the elderly, and the middle class will be hit the hardest. Already the share of publicly held debt per American is close to $40,000 (see chart at bottom). Add in intragovernmental debts owed to programs like Social Security, and every American is on the hook for more than $50,000.

President Obama has another opportunity to propose a serious budget that puts federal spending on a path to balance and tackles the increasing budget challenges the nation faces. Will he set a good example by budgeting responsibly, or will he continue on the current path toward a fiscal crisis that leaves all Americans worse off? The nation will soon know the answer.