The Social Security Administration offices in Denver Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post/Getty Images

America’s Exploding Budget Deficit

The federal government’s debt has risen from less than 40% of GDP a decade ago to 78% now, and the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the ratio will rise to 96% in 2028. While many blame the tax cuts enacted last year, the real reason lies elsewhere.

CAMBRIDGE – The United States has an enormous and rapidly widening budget deficit. Under existing law, the federal government must borrow $800 billion this year, and that amount will double, to $1.6 trillion, in 2028. During this period, the deficit as a share of GDP will increase from 4% to 5.1%. As a result of these annual deficits, the federal government’s debt will rise from $16 trillion now to $28 trillion in 2028.

The federal government’s debt has risen from less than 40% of GDP a decade ago to 78% now, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that the ratio will rise to 96% in 2028. Because foreign investors hold the majority of US government debt, this projection implies that they will absorb more than $6 trillion in US bonds during the next ten years. Long-term interest rates on US debt will have to rise substantially to induce domestic and foreign investors alike to hold this very large increase.

Why is this happening? Had last year’s tax legislation not been enacted, the 2028 debt ratio would still reach 93% of GDP, according to the CBO. So the cause of the exploding debt lies elsewhere.

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