(Casey Harper, The Center Square) The U.S. gross national debt surpassed $33 trillion, a troubling benchmark as lawmakers show little interest in reining in spending, let alone a balanced budget.
The milestone comes as Congress faces a deadline of Sept. 30 to pass another spending measure or face a federal government shutdown.
“$1 trillion more debt… SINCE JUNE!” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., wrote on social media. “Now $33 trillion. Your family’s share is over $260,000. The swamp’s answer: let’s do another CR.”
The current deficits mean that debt will only continue to grow. Earlier this month, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office published its estimate of the deficit 11 months into the fiscal year which reported that the U.S. deficit hit about $1.5 trillion. At the same point last year, the deficit was under one trillion dollars.
That debt has several economic consequences, including elevated inflation and taxpayers shelling out billions just for interest payments on the debt.
As the Center Square previously reported, within a decade the cost of interest payments on the national debt will cost taxpayers more than spending on national defense.
In addition, interest payments on the national debt are on track to become the federal government’s biggest expense.
Some Republicans blasted President Joe Biden after the news broke.
“The U.S. national debt has exceeded $33 trillion for the first time in history,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., wrote on social media. “Biden’s reckless spending has created an economic crisis.”
Both parties, though, have rapidly added to the national debt over the last two decades.
“We’re $33 trillion in debt because when Congress passes spending bills, each item is often tied to every other item—packaged together in one, gigantic bill,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wrote on social media. “That bill is then presented to Congress on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, with no real chance to amend, improve, or cut.”
Budget experts and fiscal projections show the debt will only get larger over the next decades.
“The Congressional Budget Office confirmed just last week that the underlying deficit is going to roughly double from last fiscal year to this one,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement.
“Instead of hearing about solutions, we hear promises of which programs our leaders are unwilling to touch and which taxes they are unwilling to raise,” she added. “That kind of talk is not only pandering, but it’s also downright irresponsible when we have a mess like this on our hands.”
As the Center Square previously reported, a bipartisan coalition of budget and fiscal groups formed a coalition to call on Congress to create a fiscal commission to address the issue.
The group of experts sent a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“We write to encourage the establishment of a bipartisan fiscal commission to help address the nation’s many budgetary and economic challenges,” the open letter said. “Though the recent Fiscal Responsibility Act improved the nation’s fiscal outlook, the national debt continues to approach record levels, major trust funds remain at risk of insolvency, and rising interest costs are increasingly crowding out other priorities.”