“I think today we face the most predictable economic crisis in history”

Bowles, a Democrat, then laid on the crowd some pretty simple, but devastating, arithmetic. He explained that 100 percent of the tax revenue that entered the Treasury in 2011 went out the door to pay for mandatory spending — such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — and to pay the interest on our staggering $15.6 trillion national debt.

That means that every single dollar we spent on everything else, including two wars, national defense, homeland security, education, infrastructure, high-value-added research and the like, was borrowed. “And,” he warned, “half of it was borrowed from foreign countries. And that is a formula for failure in anybody’s book.”

He said the U.S. is now paying $250 billion a year in interest on the debt, and that is only because, mercifully, interest rates are at historic lows. That’s chiefly because investors are more worried about the risk of default by European nations, and because the Fed is doing everything in its power to keep interest rates low. “It’s because we’re the best-looking horse in the glue factory,” he said.

If interest rates were normalized, Bowles said, the annual bill would be $600 billion a year.