The gross national debt topped $20 trillion, higher than it has ever been before. And the national debt held by the public, which is the gross debt minus what the government owes itself, is larger as a share of the economy than any time since immediately after World War II. Any way you measure it, the national debt is extremely high by historical standards and growing with no end currently in sight.
Here's what the co-chairs of Fix the Debt, Senator Judd Gregg and Governor Ed Rendell, said about reaching $20 trillion in debt:
President Trump spent much of the campaign warning about our $20 trillion debt; we have now officially hit that frightening milestone.
The United States now holds more gross debt than at any time in history, and our debt held by the public is a larger share of the economy than at any time since World War II.
With deficits rising, interest costs growing, and major trust funds headed toward insolvency, it’s time for our leaders to build a plan.
We should use this frightening $20 trillion milestone as a turning point when leaders put fixing the debt ahead of political priorities and work together to put our debt on a sustainable path, so we can grow the economy and improve the economic well-being of the American people.
Maya MacGuineas, head of Fix the Debt, wrote an op-ed on this ominous milestone:
You have probably heard by now that the gross national debt has hit the $20 trillion mark. Truth be told, this is not the most important number to be concerned with. But it is still worthy of attention if it gets us talking about the numbers that do matter: the debt held by the public as a share of the economy. And there, too, we are at a historic high.
In fact, at 77 percent of the economy, the debt has not been higher since the immediate aftermath of World War II. When Donald Trump took office, he gained the dubious distinction of entering the White House with the highest debt as a share of the economy of any new president besides Harry Truman.
We compiled 20 key facts about the national debt to mark $20 trillion. Here are a few:
1. National debt held by the public is currently 77% of the economy; it was 35% as recently as 2007.
2. Harry Truman is the only President to enter office with debt at a higher level as a share of the economy than Donald Trump did.
3. The federal budget deficit rose in 2016 for the first time in 5 years and deficits are expected to rise every year after 2018, which will drive up the debt.
4. The last time the federal budget ran a surplus was in 2001.
5. National debt is forecast to grow by $11 trillion over the next decade.
6. Debt held by the public is expected to reach 91% of the economy in ten years; that is more than twice the 50-year average of 40%.
See them all here.
And view more resources on the national debt: