Despite the United States being in the midst of the second-longest economic expansion since World War II, the government’s current public debt has risen to more than $22 trillion, the highest it has ever been. If the debt continues to rise at this rate, interest on the debt would be the third largest federal “program” in the federal budget. For the Fiscal Year 2020, the US budget deficit is budgeted for $1.1 trillion.
As a result of rising public debt, Americans could have less economic opportunities. Rising debt, combined with higher interest rates, can make it harder for families to buy homes and finance payments, such as college, among other things. Higher debt also limits flexibility in responding to crises, both financial and natural. In 2009, government debt to GDP was at 82%, but currently sits at 105% today, higher than the GDP of the next three largest nations, China, Japan, and Germany, combined.
While the national debt is a growing issue, as David Primo, a scholar at the Mercatus Center, states, the economy is “not going to implode tomorrow because of the national debt or federal deficit.” However, it is a long run problem that would be easier solved the sooner the US deals with it.
For students, the national debt will be a problem for years to come and can lead to higher interest rates and lower returns for students after graduation. Moreover, business growth can be affected and economic growth stunted. For the students looking to get involved and raise awareness to fight national debt, Up to Us is a nationwide campaign focused on building a sustainable economic and fiscal future for the next generation.
Across the country, Up to Us has reached more than 230,000 students on campuses in all 50 states, including at the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt’s Up to Us team is competing against these schools across the country in an effort to educate students and inspire collective action. Pitt’s team will be having an event in Mervis Hall, on Thursday April 11, from 5 to 6 pm for those interested in helping tackle national debt.
While the US is currently growing and providing more and more jobs, the debt continues to grow, which will hinder this economic growth in the future. Students can help raise awareness and take steps towards a sustainable future.