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REVIEW & OUTLOOK
June 5, 2012, 7:07 p.m. ET
Obama’s Debt Boom
The most predictable crisis in history—
Remember a week or two ago, when President Obama was claiming to be a fiscal skinflint because some online columnist said so? That was fun. On Tuesday the Congressional Budget Office released a view more tethered to reality, and let’s just say this will not be showing up in one of the President’s campaign ads.
The CBO’s long-term budget outlook notes that federal debt held by the public—the kind we have to pay back—will surge to 70% of the economy by the end of this year. That’s the highest share of GDP in U.S. history except World War II, as the nearby chart indicates, higher than during the Civil War or World War I. It’s also way up from 40% in 2008 and from the 40-year average of 38%.
And it’s rising fast. CBO says that on present trend the national debt will hit 90% of GDP by 2022. It then balloons to 109% by 2026—that would be the all-time WWII peak—and approaches almost 200% of