America will ultimately not be able to continue spending money like we are and remain a first world power.
As our debt increases, the percentage of our GDP that has to go to paying it off increases. As the % of GDP that has to go to paying off the debt increases, our ability as a nation to finance new gov't programs decreases.
As we continue to create expansionist gov't programs, despite our growing inability to pay for them, the gov't will have one of two options.
1) raise taxes: this option can work, but given the nature of American politics, and how taboo and unpopular it is to raise them (at least on everyone, no one gives a shit when its just done on the rich), the government will probably punt on this issue. The gov't may raise taxes, but they will be kept from raising them enough to make a difference by the middle class on down.
2) outsource our debt to foreign countries willing finance it: this option, is infinitely more attractive to gov't because, it is a financial concept beyond the understanding of your average voter. Also, it allows the gov't to maintain the facade that everything is fine, and thereby, guarantee that the incumbent seats within congress will be maintained.
This second option, is much like using an anesthetic on a injured patient, but then forgoing the surgery afterwords. In the short term, it allows the government to keep spending the US out of house and home without anyone being the wiser, but in the long run it can only serve to weaken the position of the US relative to other nations on the world stage.
Luckily for congress, the check hasn't come due yet on all this cash it owes. We can make the minimum payments on it for a while at least.
But as our ability to pay this debt decreases, foreign nations will become less and less confident in the dollar, and the capability of the US pay them what is owed.
Even this won't really affect the way the public sees gov't spending.
What it is going to take for people to realize that we can't spend like we are is a complete collapse of the dollar which will happen if we keep doing what we are doing. Once the foreign nations have lost confidence in the dollar and the US, they will cease to willingly finance our debt. Once that happens it will be too late to employ option one.
Thus, by continuing to, finance ridiculous gov't programs, maintain three costly wars (those being in Afghanistan, Iraq [which we still have a significant amount of troops in by the way], and the war on drugs), and bailout businesses that would be better off dissolving, the US government is consciously depriving our country of any ability to remain a first world power.