Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Gross National Debt Tops $34 Trillion; Third Milestone in 12 Months

From Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, JAN 2, 2024 - The gross national debt of the United States topped $34 trillion Friday after topping $33 trillion in September, the U.S. Treasury confirmed today.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Though our level of debt is dangerous for both our economy and for national security, America just cannot stop borrowing. The U.S. gross national debt – the combination of both the debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt – hit $34 trillion Friday, which is barely three months after it hit $33 trillion. A truly depressing ‘achievement.’

There is not a single economic reason to add to the debt at the rate we are, but sadly our political leaders are unwilling to make the changes we need to turn the fiscal situation around.

There is some good news: 2023 was actually a good year for fiscal responsibility, where we saw a net $1.3 trillion improvement in the ten-year deficit picture, largely thanks to the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). That’s a decent down payment on the much-needed deficit reduction it will take to stem the rise in our national debt.

But as we enter 2024, there is a huge risk we will return to making things worse by adding new tax cuts, spending increases, and/or ignoring the caps agreed to in the FRA.  

We remain hopeful that policymakers will take further measures to reduce our borrowing either by raising taxes, reducing spending, or creating a fiscal commission – or ideally by doing all of the above.

We can be a weak divided country where our leaders fight, pander, and take the easy way out while we become increasingly vulnerable, or we can do the hard work to be stronger, more secure, and more prosperous for the long run. This is a moment of consequence and continuing to refuse to pay our own bills will not lead us to where we need to be as a nation.

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