Federal debt is already large, and budget deficits over the next decade and beyond are projected to keep pushing it up in relation to the size of the economy. Eventually, debt as a share of economic output would reach its highest level in our nation’s history:
At the end of 2018, the amount of debt held by the public was equal to 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
In CBO’s projections, debt equals 93 percent of GDP by 2029 and about 150 percent of GDP by 2049.
Even at its highest point ever, just after World War II, debt was far less than that—106 percent of GDP.
Debt is on an unsustainable course in CBO’s projections. To put it on a sustainable one, lawmakers will have to make significant changes to tax and spending policies—making revenues larger than they would be under current law, making spending for large benefit programs smaller than it would be under current law, or adopting some combination of those approaches.