March 11, 2020
Read time : 4 min

The national debt is currently $23 trillion and counting. As this number grows every minute, it can be a daunting task to understand what this truly means. The national debt is connected to every sector of our society, from health care to defense. Understanding the debt in relation to other factors can give a better idea of how large the number truly is. Here are 7 charts that help to give more context to the national debt.

National debt by year

Line graph depicting federal debt relative to wartime in the U.S.
National Debt Chart - National Debt by year
Before WWI, the federal debt held by the public was about 30% of the GDP. However, since 1980 the debt has only been growing. Today, debt held by the public is about 80% and it‘s only projected to keep rising unless there’s a major change in the current system. 


The unsustainable path of our federal debt

Line graph depicting federal debt trends with current policies
National Debt Chart - Current Policies
Since the beginning of this millennium, our federal debt has been on an unsustainable path. If our current policies remain the same, it‘s projected that debt held by the public will rise up to 144% of GDP by 2049. Now, do you think some policies need a second look? 


How will the national debt affect individual family incomes? 

Bar graph connecting federal debt to family income
National Debt Charts - Family Incomes
Family incomes can and will be reduced by our growing federal debt. The income loss is the difference between the income level and the GDP if debt rises as it does under current law.


The cost of U.S healthcare (per capita)

Bar graph comparing the U.S.'s health care spending to 9 developed countries
National Debt Chart - Healthcare Spending
The U.S. government has the highest healthcare per capita spending amongst developed countries, with at least $3000 more than the next highest per capita cost. In order for our healthcare system to be sustainable, we have to find a way to lower costs and maintain the quality of healthcare services.


How much does the U.S. spend on defense?

Bar graph comparing the U.S.'s defense spending to 7 other countries
National Debt Chart - Defense Spending
The United States has destined most of its budget to defense programs than seven of the most powerful countries combined (China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia,United Kingdom, Germany).


The rise of interest costs

Bar graph showing the U.S.'s projected interest costs until 2049
National Debt Chart - Interest Costs
The projection of interest costs in the next years will rise to a historical 4% of GDP and will keep rising up to 5.7% by 2049 if we remain on the same path. 


The true price of interest costs

Bar graph showing the U.S.'s projected net interest costs until 2049
National Debt Chart - Net Interest Cost
As the national debt keeps rising on an unsustainable path, the government will have to spend more money on net interest costs. In the next 10 years, interest costs are projected to rise to a whooping $5.8 trillion.  

Take action!

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