U.S. National Debt Is Likely to Reach a Record 202% of GDP by 2051, CBO Projects


A sign displaying the size of the national debt in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2020.


Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

The federal debt is projected to rise to a record 202% of gross domestic product by 2051, the Congressional Budget Office said Thursday, reflecting rising costs of healthcare and debt service.

The U.S. economy is projected to grow 1.8% a year during the next three decades, compared with an estimated 1.6% in its September report, the nonpartisan CBO said. Faster projected growth reflects a smaller-than-anticipated impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it said. Growth averaged 3.1% a year from 1951 through 2020.

The forecasts don’t take into account the $1.9 trillion in federal spending proposed by President


and backed by the Democrats who narrowly control the House and Senate. Democrats say the measure is needed to ease pain from the business closures and job losses caused by the pandemic and related restrictions on economic activity.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, object to the size of the stimulus package and have pointed to growing budget deficits and debt as a reason to keep spending in check as they argue the economy is already poised for stronger growth.

Write to John McCormick at [email protected]

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