The National Debt

November 14, 2008 • Volume 18, Issue 40
Has it gotten too big?
By Marcia Clemmitt


a man and a woman watch the national debt clock (AP Photos/Bebeto Matthews)
The National Debt Clock in New York City registers $10 trillion in October for the first time — twice the amount the U.S. owed when President Bush took office eight years ago. (AP Photos/Bebeto Matthews)

With the national debt now more than $10 trillion — twice what it was eight years ago — the country faces a dire financial future, some analysts argue. Over the past eight years, the Bush administration has run larger and larger annual deficits, adding to the national debt and restricting the government's ability to respond to a new crisis. Now, with the U.S. and global financial meltdown ushering in a potentially catastrophic economic slowdown, the next president — newly elected Sen. Barack Obama — will be under pressure to use government fiscal policy, such as tax cuts and government spending, to bolster the economy, even though those actions will raise the debt further. Besides wrestling with that dilemma, the new president also must face the question of how to pay for spiraling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the nation's 77 million baby boomers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Federal Budget and National Debt
Sep. 01, 2017  National Debt
Jul. 12, 2013  Government Spending
May 15, 2012  State Capitalism
Mar. 18, 2011  National Debt
Nov. 14, 2008  The National Debt
Dec. 09, 2005  Budget Deficit
Apr. 13, 2001  Budget Surplus
Feb. 01, 1991  Recession's Regional Impact
Jan. 20, 1984  Federal Budget Deficit
Sep. 09, 1977  Federal Reorganization and Budget Reform
Nov. 24, 1972  Limits on Federal Spending
Jan. 08, 1969  Federal Budget Making
Dec. 06, 1967  National Debt Management
Aug. 01, 1962  Fiscal and Budget Policy
Nov. 27, 1957  National Debt Limit
Mar. 20, 1957  Spending Controls
Dec. 24, 1953  Public Debt Limit
Feb. 13, 1952  Tax and Debt Limitation
Nov. 30, 1949  Government Spending
Jan. 06, 1948  Legislative Budget-Making
May 23, 1944  The National Debt
Feb. 01, 1943  The Executive Budget and Appropriations by Congress
Dec. 27, 1939  Revision of the Federal Budget System
Oct. 10, 1938  The Outstanding Government Debt
Nov. 20, 1937  Budget Balancing vs. Pump Priming
May 02, 1936  The Deficit and the Public Debt
Oct. 19, 1934  The Federal Budget and the Public Debt
Feb. 10, 1933  Extraordinary Budgeting of Federal Finances
Dec. 01, 1932  Reduction of Federal Expenditures
Dec. 01, 1930  The National Budget System
Oct. 02, 1930  Federal Revenues and Expenditures
Nov. 02, 1927  The Public Debt and Foreign Loans
Nov. 15, 1926  Rising Cost of Government in the United States
Feb. 05, 1925  Four Years Under the Budget System
Budget and the Economy
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget
Economic Crises