Every promise is debt

Giovanni Caccavello // 26 February 2018

Every euro of new debt today is a euro that is going to be paid by Italians through higher taxation, tomorrow. Until 4 March 2018 (the day Italy heads to the polls), the “public debt clock” installed by the Istituto Bruno Leoni will greet passengers at the main train stations in Rome and Milan. This is the way our Institute wants to contribute to the Italian electoral campaign debate.

Our main aim is to put under the eyes of hundreds of thousands of people the key question around which the entire political debate should rotate. In fact, political leaders prefer to forget about Italy’s gigantic public debt (132% of GDP as of 2018). Of course, some parties mention the mountain of public debt in their electoral programs and promise its reduction. However, whilst they try to explain how they would reduce it, they also propose a higher deficit and even more public spending. Unfortunately, mathematics is not an opinion: to reduce our public debt we have to cut spending and we have to reach a balanced structural budget, as Italy’s Constitution imposes.

On social networks, we have used the hashtag #ognipromessaèdebito (#everypromiseisdebt). There is little need to explain the pun: every single policy or political pledge that contains the commitment to increase spending or cut taxes without concurrently finding adequate revenue will swell Italy’s ballooning public debt. Thus, every promise is debt.

The message that Italy’s high public debt sends to Italians and foreign observers is simple: every euro of greater debt, which is added to the over 2.280 billion already accumulated, is a (compounded) euro of higher taxes. The awareness that sooner or later this massive debt needs to be repaid is the main constraint on Italy’s growth; the strongest investment deterrent; and the heaviest legacy for future generations. It is curious that Italy’s public debt is also the most neglected topic of the current electoral campaign.

Read more about Bruno Leoni’s public debt campaign here,

EPICENTER publications and contributions from our member think tanks are designed to promote the discussion of economic issues and the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. As with all EPICENTER publications, the views expressed here are those of the author and not EPICENTER or its member think tanks (which have no corporate view).


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