The size of the federal budget deficit will rise over the next decade, in part due to recent tax and spending legislation, crossing the $1 trillion mark by 2020, according to new projections by the Congressional Budget Office.
In addition, the national debt, as measured by what is owed to the public, will nearly double, rising from $14.7 trillion in fiscal year 2017 to $28.7 trillion in 2029 according to the CBO, a nonpartisan office in Congress that produces independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.
The deficit, now that the tax cut and new budget are settled
In April 2018, the CBO published revised deficit projections taking into account the new tax law and the budget and appropriations bills approved by Congress. This combination of legislation decreased the federal government’s anticipated revenue and increased estimated expenditures, which modified the CBO's deficit forecast as initially published in June 2017. It is anticipated that the federal government's outlays will continue to exceed receipts continuing a deficit trend over the next decade. Below, current deficit projections from the April 2018 report are in green while the projections up to 2027 that were made in June 2017 are in gray. The bar in 2017 represents the actual deficit.
History: Budget Deficits and Surpluses by President
For the past 40 fiscal years, there have been 36 deficits and four surpluses, the surpluses occurring in the second Clinton administration. Historically, it is not typical for the deficit to significantly expand outside of a recession, depression, or war. Here are the budget balances by fiscal year and presidential administration. Since the federal government's fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, there is some administration overlap. For example, the 2017 fiscal year budget was worked out under President Barack Obama and went into effect three and a half months before President Donald Trump took office. Click on the bars for details.
The budget balance, by who was president at beginning of each fiscal year
Spending too much, taking in too little
Another way of seeing the deficits and surpluses is to track the federal government's revenue (the green area) and spending (the red line). When spending exceeds revenue, the result is a deficit.
Revenue and spending, actual and projected
Running Deficits, Increasing Debt
The CBO's latest projections estimate that debt held by the public, which is the government's debt owed to individuals, companies, local governments, foreign entities, and Federal Reserve Banks, will continue to increase over the next decade. Current projections estimate that the debt will rise to nearly $28.7 trillion by the end of 2028. Publicly held debt differs from gross federal debt which includes funds the government owes itself, or intragovernmental debt.
Total debt, in $ trillions
Interest on debt
Just like a personal loan, the government pays interest on the money it borrows. The CBO projects that the net interest paid on its debt will nearly triple over the next decade from an estimated $316 billion in 2018 to $915 billion in 2028. A presumed climb in interest rates over the next few years factors in the exponential growth rate.
Debt as a percentage of GDP
The GDP, or gross domestic product, measures the value the goods and services produced by a country in a given period of time and indicates economic output. Some economists use as a gauge the national debt as a percentage of the GDP, and it has grown steadily after the 2008 recession. The CBO predicts the debt will rise to nearly 100 percent of the nation's GDP by 2028, which is the highest amount of debt relative to the size of the economy in the United States since 1946. The CBO cautions that growing debt can result in negative consequences such as less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges and the risk of investors being unwilling to finance the government's borrowing.
The actual figures, 1968 to 2017
This table includes revenue and outlays, which when combined result in a budget balance (surplus or deficit). In addition there are figures for the deficit or surplus from the Social Security system and the Postal Service, which are factored into the total deficit/surplus column. The "debt held by the public" column details money owed by the government to those outside the government, but not debt the government owes to itself, such as interagency debt. That "gross" debt is already more than $20 trillion.
Figures in this table are in billions of dollars, and the few cells that contain an asterisk represent amounts between -$50 million and $50 million.
|year||revenue||outlays||'On budget' balance||Social Security balance||Postal Service balance||Total deficit||Debt held by public|
|year 1968||revenue $153.0||outlays $178.1||'On budget' balance $-27.7||Social Security balance $2.6||Postal Service balance n.a.||Total deficit $-25.2||Debt held by public $289.5|
|year 1969||revenue $186.9||outlays $183.6||'On budget' balance $-0.5||Social Security balance $3.7||Postal Service balance n.a.||Total deficit $3.2||Debt held by public $278.1|
|year 1970||revenue $192.8||outlays $195.6||'On budget' balance $-8.7||Social Security balance $5.9||Postal Service balance n.a.||Total deficit $-2.8||Debt held by public $283.2|
|year 1971||revenue $187.1||outlays $210.2||'On budget' balance $-26.1||Social Security balance $3.0||Postal Service balance n.a.||Total deficit $-23.0||Debt held by public $303.0|
|year 1972||revenue $207.3||outlays $230.7||'On budget' balance $-26.1||Social Security balance $3.1||Postal Service balance $-0.4||Total deficit $-23.4||Debt held by public $322.4|
|year 1973||revenue $230.8||outlays $245.7||'On budget' balance $-15.2||Social Security balance $0.5||Postal Service balance $-0.2||Total deficit $-14.9||Debt held by public $340.9|
|year 1974||revenue $263.2||outlays $269.4||'On budget' balance $-7.2||Social Security balance $1.8||Postal Service balance $-0.8||Total deficit $-6.1||Debt held by public $343.7|
|year 1975||revenue $279.1||outlays $332.3||'On budget' balance $-54.1||Social Security balance $2.0||Postal Service balance $-1.1||Total deficit $-53.2||Debt held by public $394.7|
|year 1976||revenue $298.1||outlays $371.8||'On budget' balance $-69.4||Social Security balance $-3.2||Postal Service balance $-1.1||Total deficit $-73.7||Debt held by public $477.4|
|year 1977||revenue $355.6||outlays $409.2||'On budget' balance $-49.9||Social Security balance $-3.9||Postal Service balance $0.2||Total deficit $-53.7||Debt held by public $549.1|
|year 1978||revenue $399.6||outlays $458.7||'On budget' balance $-55.4||Social Security balance $-4.3||Postal Service balance $0.5||Total deficit $-59.2||Debt held by public $607.1|
|year 1979||revenue $463.3||outlays $504.0||'On budget' balance $-39.6||Social Security balance $-2.0||Postal Service balance $0.9||Total deficit $-40.7||Debt held by public $640.3|
|year 1980||revenue $517.1||outlays $590.9||'On budget' balance $-73.1||Social Security balance $-1.1||Postal Service balance $0.4||Total deficit $-73.8||Debt held by public $711.9|
|year 1981||revenue $599.3||outlays $678.2||'On budget' balance $-73.9||Social Security balance $-5.0||Postal Service balance $-0.1||Total deficit $-79.0||Debt held by public $789.4|
|year 1982||revenue $617.8||outlays $745.7||'On budget' balance $-120.6||Social Security balance $-7.9||Postal Service balance $0.6||Total deficit $-128.0||Debt held by public $924.6|
|year 1983||revenue $600.6||outlays $808.4||'On budget' balance $-207.7||Social Security balance $0.2||Postal Service balance $-0.3||Total deficit $-207.8||Debt held by public $1,137.3|
|year 1984||revenue $666.4||outlays $851.8||'On budget' balance $-185.3||Social Security balance $0.3||Postal Service balance $-0.4||Total deficit $-185.4||Debt held by public $1,307.0|
|year 1985||revenue $734.0||outlays $946.3||'On budget' balance $-221.5||Social Security balance $9.4||Postal Service balance $-0.1||Total deficit $-212.3||Debt held by public $1,507.3|
|year 1986||revenue $769.2||outlays $990.4||'On budget' balance $-237.9||Social Security balance $16.7||Postal Service balance *||Total deficit $-221.2||Debt held by public $1,740.6|
|year 1987||revenue $854.3||outlays $1,004.0||'On budget' balance $-168.4||Social Security balance $19.6||Postal Service balance $-0.9||Total deficit $-149.7||Debt held by public $1,889.8|
|year 1988||revenue $909.2||outlays $1,064.4||'On budget' balance $-192.3||Social Security balance $38.8||Postal Service balance $-1.7||Total deficit $-155.2||Debt held by public $2,051.6|
|year 1989||revenue $991.1||outlays $1,143.7||'On budget' balance $-205.4||Social Security balance $52.4||Postal Service balance $0.3||Total deficit $-152.6||Debt held by public $2,190.7|
|year 1990||revenue $1,032.0||outlays $1,253.0||'On budget' balance $-277.6||Social Security balance $58.2||Postal Service balance $-1.6||Total deficit $-221.0||Debt held by public $2,411.6|
|year 1991||revenue $1,055.0||outlays $1,324.2||'On budget' balance $-321.4||Social Security balance $53.5||Postal Service balance $-1.3||Total deficit $-269.2||Debt held by public $2,689.0|
|year 1992||revenue $1,091.2||outlays $1,381.5||'On budget' balance $-340.4||Social Security balance $50.7||Postal Service balance $-0.7||Total deficit $-290.3||Debt held by public $2,999.7|
|year 1993||revenue $1,154.3||outlays $1,409.4||'On budget' balance $-300.4||Social Security balance $46.8||Postal Service balance $-1.4||Total deficit $-255.1||Debt held by public $3,248.4|
|year 1994||revenue $1,258.6||outlays $1,461.8||'On budget' balance $-258.8||Social Security balance $56.8||Postal Service balance $-1.1||Total deficit $-203.2||Debt held by public $3,433.1|
|year 1995||revenue $1,351.8||outlays $1,515.7||'On budget' balance $-226.4||Social Security balance $60.4||Postal Service balance $2.0||Total deficit $-164.0||Debt held by public $3,604.4|
|year 1996||revenue $1,453.1||outlays $1,560.5||'On budget' balance $-174.0||Social Security balance $66.4||Postal Service balance $0.2||Total deficit $-107.4||Debt held by public $3,734.1|
|year 1997||revenue $1,579.2||outlays $1,601.1||'On budget' balance $-103.2||Social Security balance $81.3||Postal Service balance *||Total deficit $-21.9||Debt held by public $3,772.3|
|year 1998||revenue $1,721.7||outlays $1,652.5||'On budget' balance $-29.9||Social Security balance $99.4||Postal Service balance $-0.2||Total deficit $69.3||Debt held by public $3,721.1|
|year 1999||revenue $1,827.5||outlays $1,701.8||'On budget' balance $1.9||Social Security balance $124.7||Postal Service balance $-1.0||Total deficit $125.6||Debt held by public $3,632.4|
|year 2000||revenue $2,025.2||outlays $1,789.0||'On budget' balance $86.4||Social Security balance $151.8||Postal Service balance $-2.0||Total deficit $236.2||Debt held by public $3,409.8|
|year 2001||revenue $1,991.1||outlays $1,862.8||'On budget' balance $-32.4||Social Security balance $163.0||Postal Service balance $-2.3||Total deficit $128.2||Debt held by public $3,319.6|
|year 2002||revenue $1,853.1||outlays $2,010.9||'On budget' balance $-317.4||Social Security balance $159.0||Postal Service balance $0.7||Total deficit $-157.8||Debt held by public $3,540.4|
|year 2003||revenue $1,782.3||outlays $2,159.9||'On budget' balance $-538.4||Social Security balance $155.6||Postal Service balance $5.2||Total deficit $-377.6||Debt held by public $3,913.4|
|year 2004||revenue $1,880.1||outlays $2,292.8||'On budget' balance $-568.0||Social Security balance $151.1||Postal Service balance $4.1||Total deficit $-412.7||Debt held by public $4,295.5|
|year 2005||revenue $2,153.6||outlays $2,472.0||'On budget' balance $-493.6||Social Security balance $173.5||Postal Service balance $1.8||Total deficit $-318.3||Debt held by public $4,592.2|
|year 2006||revenue $2,406.9||outlays $2,655.1||'On budget' balance $-434.5||Social Security balance $185.2||Postal Service balance $1.1||Total deficit $-248.2||Debt held by public $4,829.0|
|year 2007||revenue $2,568.0||outlays $2,728.7||'On budget' balance $-342.2||Social Security balance $186.5||Postal Service balance $-5.1||Total deficit $-160.7||Debt held by public $5,035.1|
|year 2008||revenue $2,524.0||outlays $2,982.5||'On budget' balance $-641.8||Social Security balance $185.7||Postal Service balance $-2.4||Total deficit $-458.6||Debt held by public $5,803.1|
|year 2009||revenue $2,105.0||outlays $3,517.7||'On budget' balance $-1,549.7||Social Security balance $137.3||Postal Service balance $-0.3||Total deficit $-1,412.7||Debt held by public $7,544.7|
|year 2010||revenue $2,162.7||outlays $3,457.1||'On budget' balance $-1,371.4||Social Security balance $81.7||Postal Service balance $-4.7||Total deficit $-1,294.4||Debt held by public $9,018.9|
|year 2011||revenue $2,303.5||outlays $3,603.1||'On budget' balance $-1,366.8||Social Security balance $68.0||Postal Service balance $-0.8||Total deficit $-1,299.6||Debt held by public $10,128.2|
|year 2012||revenue $2,450.0||outlays $3,536.9||'On budget' balance $-1,148.9||Social Security balance $64.6||Postal Service balance $-2.7||Total deficit $-1,087.0||Debt held by public $11,281.1|
|year 2013||revenue $2,775.1||outlays $3,454.6||'On budget' balance $-719.0||Social Security balance $37.6||Postal Service balance $1.9||Total deficit $-679.5||Debt held by public $11,982.7|
|year 2014||revenue $3,021.5||outlays $3,506.1||'On budget' balance $-514.1||Social Security balance $27.0||Postal Service balance $2.5||Total deficit $-484.6||Debt held by public $12,779.9|
|year 2015||revenue $3,249.9||outlays $3,688.4||'On budget' balance $-465.8||Social Security balance $25.6||Postal Service balance $1.7||Total deficit $-438.5||Debt held by public $13,116.7|
|year 2016||revenue $3,268.0||outlays $3,852.6||'On budget' balance $-620.2||Social Security balance $34.1||Postal Service balance $1.4||Total deficit $-584.7||Debt held by public $14,167.6|
|year 2017||revenue $3,316.2||outlays $3,981.6||'On budget' balance $-714.8||Social Security balance $47.1||Postal Service balance $2.3||Total deficit $-665.4||Debt held by public $14,665.5|
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