The United States Treasury Department reported Tuesday that the national debt topped $22 trillion dollars for the first time ever after jumping around $30 billion last month.
The official debt number clocked in at a whopping $22.012 trillion, according to USA Today, and is rising at a steady clip, following a spike in new spending in a short-term 2019 budget, parts of which were passed in December. Another spike is likely this week, as Congress readies a second “budget compromise” that will provide more permanent funding to federal agencies (including around $1.5 billion for a border wall).
“The nation,” USA Today says, “has added more than $1 trillion in debt in the last 11 months alone.”
Much of that comes from a dramatic increase in domestic and military spending — a problem shared by both parties. The fruits of a $1.5 billion Republican tax cut passed in late 2017 also have yet to materialize, pushing the number slightly higher.
Financial experts warn that, while the debt isn’t technically a problem right now, such a high national debt could have a domino effect on interest rates across the board. And as the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio grows, the ability for the United States government to eventually pay back that debt decreases substantially.
Although President Donald Trump has earned some of the blame for the sudden spike in debt, CNBC reports, former President Barack Obama has so far had the greatest impact on U.S. debt, having “racked up nearly as much debt in eight years than in the entire 232-year history of the country before he took office.”
“He entered with $10.6 trillion in total debt and left with the country owing $19.9 trillion. That’s an average tab of $1.16 trillion a year,” the financial website continued. “Under President Donald Trump, the debt also has climbed. The $2.06 trillion increase works out to about $991 billion a year, or slightly less than the pace Obama had set.”
Congress isn’t blameless, either. Federal spending has ballooned over the last decade and it shows no sign of slowing. In 2018, Congress approved a $1.3 trillion budget, according to The New York Times, increasing spending across the board in nearly every government sector, boosting federal contributions to everything from nuclear waste management and the Secret Service to Asian carp abatement.
This year’s budget is expected to be even costlier. Although the focus has largely been on how much will be appropriate for President Donald Trump’s signature anti-illegal immigration measure, the border wall between the United States and Mexico (so far around $1.4 billion), the full budget is expected to top $1.5 trillion — and that number will only go up in subsequent proposals.
“Over the next 10 years, annual federal deficits — when Congress spends more than it takes in through tax revenues — are expected to average $1.2 trillion, which would be 4.4 percent of gross domestic product,” NPR reports. “That’s far higher than the 2.9 percent of GDP that has been the average for the past 50 years.”
And neither party seems poised to do much about it.