Measured as a portion of the U.S. economy, is the current national debt larger than at any time in U.S. history?
The U.S. national debt currently stands at 126% of the nation's annual economic output, higher than at any time in history, including the massive spike from World War II. Media outlets commonly blame rising debt on tax cuts and military spending, but federal tax revenues have stayed roughly level as a portion of the economy for the past 80 years, and military spending has plummeted from 55% of all federal expenses in 1959 to 18% in 2018. In reality, the primary driver of the national debt is social programs, which have grown from 20% of all federal spending in 1959 to 62% in 2018. Social programs are those that provide healthcare, income security, education, nutrition, housing, and cultural services. These also encompass the vast bulk of all Covid-19-related spending.