Inside the Beltway: Debt monster grows, now matching America’s annual GDP

“The national debt is headed towards record levels,” warns the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group committed in its mission statement to educating the public on fiscal policy.

They’ve got the numbers.

“In May, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that debt would grow by $22.1 trillion over ten years, reaching $46.7 trillion by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2033 and rising from 97% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the end of 2022, to a record 107% of GDP by 2028 – eclipsing the record of 106% set just after World War II. Debt will continue to grow thereafter, reaching 119% of GDP by the end of 2033,” the organization said in a written report shared with Inside the Beltway

“In June, the nation’s fiscal outlook improved when Congress passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). CBO now projects that debt will instead reach 115% of GDP by 2033 – far from sustainable, but improved nonetheless. However, if policymakers extend costly tax cuts and subsidies without offsets, grow discretionary spending with the economy instead of inflation after the FRA’s caps expire, adopt the ‘side deals’ cut alongside the FRA, and revenue collection continues to prove weaker than expected, we estimate debt would increase by an additional $5.7 trillion, to $50.9 trillion or a record 130% of GDP by the end of 2033,” the report noted.

Find the organization at CRFB.org.


Just in case you wondered, here is the total national debt, as released by the Treasury Department on Wednesday as part of its “Debt to the Penny” online updates:


“The U.S. has carried debt since its inception. Debts incurred during the American Revolutionary War amounted to over $75 million by January 1, 1791,” the federal agency said in a short history of the debt burden and how it grew from the Civil War years, through World War I and beyond.

Then there’s contemporary influences.

“Notable recent events triggering large spikes in the debt include the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, the 2008 Great Recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic. From FY 2019 to FY 2021, spending increased by about 50%, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax cuts, stimulus programs, increased government spending, and decreased tax revenue caused by widespread unemployment generally account for sharp rises in the national debt,” the agency said.


Reporters Without Borders has had a busy year.

The international nongovernmental organization was founded in 1985 and remains focused on safeguarding the right to freedom of information, and the personal safety of those who gather this information.

The group now reports it has seen a surge in requests for help from journalists who have been “threatened in connection with their work.”

Two-thirds of that assistance has enabled reporters to relocate to a safer place in their country or supported journalists who had to flee abroad.

The organization provided financial assistance to 460 journalists in 62 countries in 2023 — more than twice as many as in 2022, when 223 journalists received financial assistance. The group sent $1.1 million to journalists who were in danger this year; the average individual sum was $2,200, according to a written statement.

“The emergency funds sent by RSF enable journalists to find a safe refuge and keep working despite the threat of imprisonment or death to which they are exposed because they are journalists. In environments characterized not only by persecution but also by disinformation and propaganda, helping journalists to pursue their activity is a priority. Emergency grants are often the first link in a long support chain designed to achieve this,” said Antoine Bernard, the group’s advocacy and assistance director, in a written statement.


Just in case you’re weary of political follies and need some escapist reading, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has assembled a list of 40 free garden and seed catalogues of every description.

The well-known Burpee garden supply company reveals, for example, that it is now offering the Mission Giant Orange Hybrid Marigold, which offers three-inch wide, yellow-orange flowers. Totally Tomatoes, on the other hand, features the Council Bluff Tomato, which typically grows to four inches across.

The catalogues are listed in alphabetical order and none are produced by the venerable almanac, which was founded in 1792.

Find the collection at Almanac.com.


For sale: Grand Romanesque-style historic home built in 1893 in Denver. Thoughtfully renovated with four bedrooms, five baths; and “cozy but majestic” style — with 20-foot cathedral ceilings, vaulted arches, plus a great room and multiple dining and seating areas. Chef’s kitchen with professional level appliances, wine cellar, loft with office, third level balcony; 6,571 square feet. Carefully landscaped, mountain views; called “a stunning example of adaptive reuse.” Priced at $4 million through Remax.com; enter 2256595 in the search function at the website.


• 40% of U.S. adults “strongly agree” that democracy is the greatest form of government; 44% of Republicans, 28% of independents and 47% of Democrats agree.

• 27% “somewhat agree” that democracy is the greatest form of government; 27% of Republicans, 24% of independents and 30% of Democrats agree.

• 26% neither agree nor disagree about the issue; 23% of Republicans, 36% of independents and 17% of Democrats agree.

• 3% “somewhat disagree” that democracy is the greatest form of government; 4% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 2% of Democrats agree.

• 4% “strongly disagree” that democracy is the greatest form of government; 3% of Republicans, 7% of independents and 3% of Democrats agree.

SOURCE: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 16-18.

Happy New Year and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.

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