Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson said Thursday that the United States could face the same fate as ancient Egypt and Rome unless it finds a way to shrink the national debt.
"You go back to 17th century Spain, 18th century France, 19th century Great Britain, ancient Egypt, ancient Rome — every one of them knew that there was a problem, they did nothing about it and they collapsed," Carson said. "Are we going to face the same thing or are we going to be smart enough to learn from their examples?"
Carson was asked by Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, during his testimony on the proposed HUD budget to talk about "the need for members of Congress to be honest with our constituents and tell them how urgent it is that we rescue Medicare and Social Security from insolvency."
Carson responded by discussing the size the U.S. debt. "Twenty trillion dollars, the national debt, just back it back up to $18 trillion. If you tried to pay that off at a rate of 10 million dollars a day, 365 days a year, it would take over 5,000 years," Carson said.
"This is what we are putting on the back of our citizens," he said. "Every of those thousands of babies born today will come with a debt of $60,000 on their head. This does not go away, this is there. So we have to work within that reality. Almost every society had an opportunity to do this."
The Treasury Department has warned that Congress will have to act before August to raise the debt ceiling, or the U.S. will not be able to borrow any more money. The national debt is just short of $20 trillion.