National Debt Driver
Which of the following factors is the main driver of the skyrocketing national debt?
Contrary to the claims of many media outlets and politicians like Bernie Sanders, the main driver of the exploding national debt is escalating federal spending, especially on social programs. From 1960 to 2022, federal spending rose from 17% of the U.S. economy to 24%, while social programs rose from 21% of all federal outlays to more than 60%. In the same period, military spending shrunk from 53% of federal outlays to less than 20%. The share of the U.S. economy collected in federal taxes has been roughly level for 80+ years, and the actual federal tax rates paid by the wealthy have been about level since 1979, which is as far back as Congressional Budget Office data extends. Most so-called "tax cuts" are actually "tax evens" that correct for laws that consume an ever-growing share of people's incomes through a phenomenon called "bracket creep."