Politics

American national debt hits $30 trillion milestone for first time

According to data from the Treasury Department published on Tuesday, the total public debt outstanding has risen above the $30 trillion mark for the first time.

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated borrowing as the federal government spent fiercely in order to cushion the damage done to the economy by the crisis.

Since the end of 2019, the national debt has climbed by about $7 trillion. The chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell acknowledged recently that the fiscal situation would not be able to continue on the current trajectory.

“We’re on an unsustainable path,” he said to lawmakers last month. “Debt is not at an unsustainable level, but the path is unsustainable – meaning it’s growing faster than the economy, meaningfully faster than the economy. We have to address that over time. We will address it over time. And the better way to do it is soon.”

Almost $8 trillion of the country’s debt is now attributed to foreign and international investors, led by China and Japan. That debt will need to be paid back at some point, including with interest.

“That means American taxpayers will be paying for the retirement of the people in China and Japan, who are our creditors,” said David Kelly, the chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. 

According to Michael Peterson, the CEO of the Peterson Foundation, the problem lies with both Republicans and Democrats alike who have driven up the national debt.

“Our current fiscal posture is a result of many years of fiscal irresponsibility from both parties. What’s required to get us out of this situation is honesty and leadership from our elected officials,” Peterson noted. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CNN

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