The federal debt held by investors and foreign countries amounts to 72 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Except for a short period around the end of World War II, that's the highest level in U.S. history.
And although the federal deficit has dropped sharply in the past year, it is expected to start rising again in a few years. Sara Imhof, Midwest regional director for The Concord Coalition, points out in a recent op-ed that demographic forces, health care spending and interest payments are putting more and more pressure on the rest of the budget.
As a result, current-law projections indicate that by 2020 federal spending apart from Social Security and major health care programs will fall to its smallest percentage of GDP in more than 70 years. Yet the debt would continue to climb.
Imhof ‘s article appeared in Quad-Cities Online in advance of two interactive budget exercises today in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois. The programs, presented by Concord and Rep. Cheri Bustos, invite participants to work together to develop comprehensive fiscal reform packages.