America’s National Debt Soars Past $30 Trillion Milestone

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
February 2, 2022Updated: February 3, 2022

The United States’ ballooning national debt has exceeded $30 trillion for the first time, according to Treasury Department data.

As of Jan. 31, the total public debt outstanding was $30.012 trillion, which roughly works out to just over $90,000 per citizen or nearly $240,000 per taxpayer, the department said in a statement (pdf).

Debt-fueled spending exploded during the pandemic with various programs meant to shield Americans from the economic fallout of lockdowns and other business restrictions, job losses, and reduced consumer spending.

Treasury Department figures show that the total public debt outstanding on Sept. 30, 2019—the end of the fiscal year—stood at $22.7 trillion. Just 12 months later, on Sept. 30, 2020, the debt had ballooned to $26.9 trillion, and a year after that to $28.4 trillion, reflecting massive fiscal spending.

While the low-interest-rate environment has led some Biden administration officials to dismiss concerns about debt sustainability, some economists say all that borrowing is deeply problematic.

“The milestone of $30 trillion in debt should be a giant red flag for all of us about America’s future economic health, generational equity, and role in the world,” Michael Peterson, chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan group that promotes deficit reduction, said in a statement.

Epoch Times Photo
Screenshot from the Daily Treasury Statement, highlighting Total Public Debt Outstanding at over $30 trillion, on Jan. 31, 2022. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Peterson said the high and rising debt makes the United States more vulnerable to future crises such as pandemics, while making the country less secure against adversaries.

“The good news is that the budget is entirely within our control. America’s success over hundreds of years is based on a forward-thinking ethos, with leaders showing a moral determination and commitment to leaving a future that is brighter than the past,” he said, arguing that, for the sake of future generations, the responsible thing to do is to bring the country onto a sustainable fiscal path.

Stephen Moore, who served as senior economic adviser to former President Donald Trump, argued in a recent commentary in The Epoch Times that “runaway government spending” was the “most dangerous virus today.”

“In 2021, President Joe Biden’s first year in office, federal spending came in at just under $7 trillion ($6.81 trillion, to be exact). So, in less than four decades, the budget has grown sevenfold,” Moore wrote.  “Much faster than inflation. Much faster than the economy. The government is now gobbling up the economy, spending up to 30 percent of our national output.”

Related Topics