CBO Paints a Grim U.S. Debt Picture For Future Generations

John Romero | June 26, 2019
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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released its 30-year outlook for the federal budget, and its findings should worry everyone.

As of right now, painting a best case scenario that includes no wars, a healthy economy, and an ending of the Trump tax cuts, the federal debt held by the American people is set to balloon to a level the U.S. has never seen. The current level of debt held by the public is projected to be 78 percent of total GDP by the end of the year, a level not seen since WWII. 

By 2049, it will nearly double to 144 percent.

Each year, the CBO predicts the U.S. will be paying out more than it is taking in, along with ever-increasing interest payments that already account for 7.6 percent of the federal budget. The CBO also predicts that interest payments alone will engulf 20 percent of the total federal budget by 2049.

Over this 30-year period, CBO says Medicare and Social Security would be the biggest driver of this increasing debt. In fact, when not accounting for those two programs, the federal budget actually runs at a net gain, generating a surplus in those 30 years that would be nearly equal to the debt currently held by the federal government: roughly $23 trillion.

Before the argument is made that these people paid into the system and deserve the current benefits being offered, the Urban Institute ran a study of current and future Medicare and Social Security recipients and showed that on average, the benefits people receive are approximately two to three times that of what they paid into the programs.

Right now, spending on these two programs account for about 50 percent of the overall federal budget, but is predicted to balloon to 70 percent of the federal budget by 2049.

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