Although it has been far away from the headlines, the national debt has continued to balloon year after year and 2019 will be no exception.
According to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office, the federal deficit will likely reach $897 billion in 2019 and is expected to hit one trillion dollars within the next three years.
The deficit is an important number to track because each year’s deficit accumulates to calculated the entire U.S. debt. The U.S. National Debt Clock shows the U.S. national debt sitting just shy of $22 trillion dollars.
To put that in perspective, that means that each American would have to pay around $67,000 to the federal government before the country would break even.
According to a report by the Washington Examiner, this is the highest debt to GDP ratio since World War II.
United States Gross Federal Debt to GDP
As IJR previously reported, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) put together a jaw-dropping list of ways that Congress wastes money, including funding research on leaf blowing lizards and daydreaming.
While these examples of waste may cause some head scratching, they aren’t the real problem-causers.
Entitlements are the main reason the deficit continues to balloon year after year.
Programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are responsible for the brunt of the debt. According to the numbers compiled by the U.S. Debt Clock, those three entitlements are the largest budget items in the U.S. budget.
While the U.S. debt may not seem like an issue that impacts everyday Americans, that could change. Among the largest budget items, interest on the federal debt it the fifth largest expense for the federal government.
That means the $346 billion that is going toward paying debt interest isn’t going to other programs Americans want. For example, President Donald Trump’s request for a $5.7 billion wall could be paid 60 times over with money to spare.
Although this used to be an issue for many conservatives, cutting spending seems to be less of an issue today. In fact, only four lawmakers have a voting record that didn’t increase spending in 2017: Sen. Paul, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich).
While some lawmakers may be willing to cut spending for a border wall or leaf blowing lizards, the only ways to seriously tackle the debt would be to cut entitlements or drastically increase tax revenue — neither of which are popular options.