Adm. Mike Mullen: National Debt is Greatest Threat to Country

Leah Barkoukis

1/21/2014 2:40:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen on Tuesday listed what he considers to be the greatest threats to America. Foremost among them is the national debt--a point he's made many times before.

Mullen's version of a stump speech is a listing the five greatest threats facing America, including the $17 trillion national debt, the insufficiencies of the K-12 education system, political paralysis in Washington, the threat of cyber warfare and the way the country treats its returning veterans.

The U.S. military's former top officer talked about defense cuts imposed by the sequester (“The silver lining … is that spending was reduced -- I hate it”), to the leaks of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden (“traitor”) to his willingness to consider means-testing for military benefits (“everybody's got to sacrifice”).

Though all are important issues, Mullen considers the main challenge to be reining in the country's debt and out-of-control spending.

“From a very strategic level, I believe the military is part of the solution to better outcomes around the world, but at a higher level, it's really about economies,” he said.

He is hopeful, however, that the decline in government spending in recent years is the "beginning of being able to turn it around."