China $yndrome

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It was a month ago that we noted in the dead-tree version of Time the insanity of borrowing money hand-over-fist from China to help fund the U.S. government, including the American military (the U.S. is borrowing 40% of what it spends, much of it from Beijing). “We are borrowing cash from China to pay for weapons that we would presumably use against it,” we noted. “If the Chinese want to slay us, they don’t need to attack us with their missiles. They just have to call in their loans.”

Well. It seems this also perplexes Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Check out Section 1225, National Security Risk Assessment of the United States’ Federal Debt Owned by the People’s Republic of China, in his version of next year’s defense authorization bill, which he released Monday:

This section would require, within 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine and make publicly available the amount of accrued interest on United States Federal debt paid to the People’s Republic of China during the five years preceding the date of enactment of this Act. This section would further require the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, to carry out an assessment of the national security risks posed to the United States and United States allies as a result of the Federal debt liabilities owed to China and the amount of interest determined to have been paid by the United States to China.

Benjamin Franklin was one of those founding fathers who spent some of his adult life in England, as well as serving as the first U.S. ambassador to France. He also coined a number of aphorisms, including He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing. We can’t say we weren’t warned early enough.