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National debt tops $34 trillion for first time in U.S. history

"A truly depressing ‘achievement,’" says the head of a budget watchdog group

Published: January 2, 2024 4:43pm

Updated: January 3, 2024 12:19pm

The total U.S. national debt has surpassed $34 trillion for the first time in U.S. history, according to U.S. Treasury data released on Tuesday.  

"Though our level of debt is dangerous for both our economy and for national security, America just cannot stop borrowing," Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The U.S. gross national debt – the combination of both the debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt – hit $34 trillion Friday, which is barely three months after it hit $33 trillion. A truly depressing ‘achievement,’" she added.

MacGuineas said there is not a "single economic reason to add to the debt at the rate we are, but sadly our political leaders are unwilling to make the changes we need to turn the fiscal situation around."

She noted that the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) that passed last year would result in about $1.3 trillion of deficit reduction over 10 years.

"But as we enter 2024, there is a huge risk we will return to making things worse by adding new tax cuts, spending increases, and/or ignoring the caps agreed to in the FRA," she cautioned. "We remain hopeful that policymakers will take further measures to reduce our borrowing either by raising taxes, reducing spending, or creating a fiscal commission – or ideally by doing all of the above."

According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, each individual's share of the U.S. national debt is $101,233.

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