The federal debt is not being talked about much in this campaign for the presidency. Why not? Should there be more focus on it? How do we get to a balanced budget and pay down the debt? Right now, as of July 2016 the gross national debt is $19.48 trillion, about 104% of GDP. Here is a little history: In the 1930’s, during the height of the depression we ran deficits of between 0.1% and 5.8% of GDP; during WWII we had deficits as high as 29.6% of GDP, but we also had surpluses from 1947 thru 1949; in the 1950’s we had deficits that averaged 1.04% of GDP and the debt was 92% of GDP, but we also had surpluses from 0.7% to 1.9% of GDP; in the 1960’s we had deficits that ran an average of 1% of GDP and a debt that was 54.3% of GDP; in the 1970’s deficits ran an average of 2.1% the debt was 36.3% of GDP; in the 1980’s deficits ran an average of 3.8% the debt was 32.5% of GDP; in the 1990’s deficits ran an average of 2.88% of GDP with two years of 1.05% surplus and the debt was 54.5% of GDP; in 2000 and 2001 we had surpluses an average of 1.75% of GDP; from 2002 thru 2009 we had deficits that ran an average of 3.3% of GDP the debt was 55.5%; from 2010 thru 2015 we have had average deficits of 7.3% and debt was 91.4%, deficits have dropped back down to about 3% of GDP in 2014 and 2015 but debt was 102% of GDP. Numbers alone don’t give us a clear picture of the effects the economy has on the federal budget. For example, after WWII the economy grew very rapidly at around 10%, today it is a very anemic 1.2%. Tax rates are the other important part of the equation. For example, during WWII and the Korean War individual tax rates were as high as 91% with 24 tax brackets. Today the highest rate is 39.9% with seven tax brackets. The dilemma is, do you cut taxes or increase taxes in order to pay down the debt? It’s obvious that the high tax rates after WWII quickly brought down the debt and annual deficit, but there are two problems with trying to raise taxes today. One is, the economy is not growing as fast as it was after WWII. The second is that, after WWII the country was still pulling together as one, and people understood that the taxes were necessary. Today, businesses are demanding lower tax rates because the rates in most other countries are lower, and Democrats want to increase taxes to expand social services. That poses a political challenge. In the long run, lower rates eventually raise revenue, but would that raise enough revenue to lower the debt? Republicans want to slash taxes and regulations to get the economy moving, and eventually want to balance the budget; Democrats want more social spending and higher taxes but offer no plan for paying down the debt, that is clearly not practical. I think the real solution would be to raise taxes for a few years, make some spending cuts while increasing spending for the military and infrastructure along with cutting regulations. The problem is I don’t see the leadership needed to pull the country together to accomplish that.