For 90 years, the growing national debt has confounded alarmists.

Regarding Jeb Hensarling’s op-ed “Debt and Inflation Threaten U.S. Security” (Feb. 23): There is no causal connection between the rate of inflation and the deficit or the level of outstanding Treasury obligations. There has been a deficit in each of the past 20 years, adding to the growing national debt. In most years there was negligible inflation.

Debt alarmists cite the national debt as a percentage of GDP. But what counts is the ability of the international bond market (estimated to be $125 trillion) to absorb easily new Treasury issues that are a fraction of its size.

Mr. Hensarling’s implication is that the U.S. should run operating surpluses to pay down the national debt. That would cause a sharp decline in GDP. And interest on Treasury obligations will not “crowd out defense spending.” Increasing the national debt allows the U.S. to increase spending for national defense and other important federal programs.

When Treasury issues new debt instruments, there is no increase in M2 (and, thus, inflation) because the dollars used to purchase that debt already exist in the financial markets.

Alarmists have claimed since the New Deal that the national debt would be America’s ruin. For 90 years, the growing national debt has confounded those alarmists.

Robert de Porres-Ras

Oak Brook, Ill.

Wall Street Journal – Opinion