‘Don’t Know That Off The Top Of Your Head?’: Ron Johnson Grills Yellen On Ballooning US Debt

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson grilled Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday over the ballooning U.S. debt.

Yellen was testifying at the Senate Finance Committee when Johnson attributed massive deficit spending, the war on fossil fuels and supply chain problems to rising inflation.

“I don’t believe deficit spending is one of the main causes of inflation-” Yellen said before Johnson cut in.

“You don’t? Inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods,” Johnson said before talking about deficit spending ballooning throughout the Biden Administration.

“How much are the total deficits over that ten year period according to the president’s budget?” Johnson asked as Yellen began searching through a book.

“You don’t know that off the top of your head?” Johnson pressed. “I’m running out of, okay it’s $17 trillion dollars, okay. You’re gonna drive the debt from somewhere around $32 trillion up to about $50 trillion, correct?” (RELATED: ‘That Is Happening Right Now!’: Sen. Lankford Tears Into Yellen Over Bank Bailouts)

“Yes, but what I believe is the single most important metric for judging the fiscal stance of the country is real net interest as a share of GDP,” Yellen said.

“So are you concerned, when you’re taking the debt from $32 trillion to $50 trillion dollars, are you concerned whose going to buy that debt and also at what rate they’ll be expected to be compensated for buying riskier and riskier debt? Are you concerned about that,” Johnson pressed.

“Well if the real net interest cost of the debt remains low relative to GDP and we’re on a sustainable fiscal course-”

“We’re not on a sustainable path,” Johnson interjected before turning his focus to Social Security. Johnson asked whether the U.S. could maintain Social Security spending amid ballooning debt, “Aren’t you concerned about our inability to honor those promises?”

“The interest costs on the debt as a share of our economy remains quite low throughout the ten year horizon,” Yellen testified. “The president’s budget it remains manageable.”

“You also said inflation is transitory and it certainly isn’t,” Johnson chimed in, saying that the problem won’t go away anytime soon.

Johnson continued to hammer the rising deficit and the administration’s budget.

“How can you claim you’re cutting deficits?” Johnson asked. “Saying you’re cutting the deficit is just misleading the American public.”

Johnson’s time was then cut as he hit his limit.