America’s national debt has climbed north of $31 trillion for the first time, a milestone that comes at a time of historically high inflation, rising interest rates and growing economic uncertainty.
The nation’s total public debt outstanding closed at $31.1 trillion on Monday, according to Treasury Department data published Tuesday.
The US government went on a borrowing spree during the Covid-19 pandemic to help shore up the nation’s economy as the deadly virus upended lives, labor markets and supply chains. Outstanding debt has climbed nearly $8 trillion since the beginning of 2020. And it has jumped by $1 trillion in just eight months.
The borrowing that occurred under the Trump administration and early on in the Biden administration came at a time when interest rates were low. Now, during a period of historically high inflation and a series of steep interest rates hikes by the Federal Reserve in its battle to tame rising prices, borrowing costs are far higher.
The Committee for a Responsible Fiscal Budget last month estimated that President Joe Biden’s policies could add $4.8 trillion to deficits between 2021 and 2031.
“Excessive borrowing will lead to continued inflationary pressures, drive the national debt to a new record as soon as 2030 and triple federal interest payments over the next decade – or even sooner if interest rates go up faster or by more than expected,” the CRFB wrote.
America’s borrowing levels have soared during the past decade. The outstanding public debt was $10.6 trillion when former President Barack Obama took office on January 20, 2009; $19.9 trillion when former President Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017; and $27.8 trillion when Biden took office on January 20, 2021, Treasury Department data shows.