The recent forecast from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) clearly shows that the national debt is on an unsustainable course. But the situation could get even worse if Washington continues to act irresponsibly.
Debt is forecast to exceed the size of the economy by 2033 and surpass the all-time record of 106% of the economy by 2035. And it will keep climbing, reaching 150% of the economy by 2047, which is nearly double what it is now. CBO warns that debt at such high levels will slow the growth of the economy and wages and leave the country vulnerable.
That forecast assumes that the politicians in Washington won’t make things worse by adding more to the debt than what is already expected. However, recent history shows that we shouldn’t make that assumption.
Our partners at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) found that if policymakers extend certain policies beyond what current law calls for, the debt will rise to 180% of the economy in 2047, as opposed to the current forecast of 150%. Further, other conceivable policy choices could increase the debt to a staggering 225% of the economy by 2047. Higher debt will have a harsher economic impact.
The bottom line is that decisions made now in Washington will have a major effect on the national debt situation. Policymakers can make things better or worse. We need to make sure they do the right thing.