The Smiths Go to Washington – and Spend Too Much

Emily Goff /

Meet the fictitious Smith family, whose budget woes bear a striking resemblance to those of the federal government.

As this new video released by the Republican Study Committee describes, the Smith family’s problem is that they spend way beyond their means. As a result, they have racked up a hefty level of debt. With a national debt of more than $16 trillion, the federal government is in a similar—though not-so-fictitious—situation.

Comparing the federal budget to that of a family is one way of making sense out of the mind-boggling billions and trillions of dollars that constitute Washington’s finances. This Heritage Foundation chart also explains Washington’s spending problem in terms of a family budget. (continues below chart)

A typical family earning $51,360 (2010 median family income), if it budgeted like the federal government, would spend $73,319, or $21,959 more than it earns. One-third of that spending would go onto its credit card. The family would have amassed $325,781 in credit card debt, which is akin to taking out a mortgage—but with no house to show for it.

The reckless nature of such spending and borrowing is plain as day, yet it is exactly what the federal government continues to do—at the expense of the economic freedoms of future generations.

As the video states, it is irresponsible to leave today’s children and grandchildren with the burden of paying the expensive consequences of Washington’s spending addiction. Hiking taxes or increasing the level of borrowing to pay for it are not solutions, especially because the root problem is too much spending, not low taxes or debt.

Because every American’s debt burden is on course to skyrocket, it is all the more imperative that Washington demonstrate its seriousness in getting spending under control now.