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For fiscal year 2019, the U.S. federal deficit was $984 billion and the national debt grew to $22.8 trillion. (You can find real-time numbers for the deficit, debt, and much more at US Debt Clock.) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects federal deficits to exceed $1 trillion each year beginning in 2022 if current laws do not change. In 2019, federal debt held by the public was 78% of GDP, with the CBO projecting that to rise to more than 92% by 2029. In an April 2018 report, the Cato Institute stated that the United States is the only advanced country expected to show an increasing debt-to-GDP ratio through 2023*.
What is the difference between the federal deficit and the national debt?
What are the economic consequences of a rising federal deficit and national debt?
Should we be concerned about the sizes (and projected increases) of the deficit and debt? Why or why not?
Who exactly do we owe this money to, and does this make a difference in terms of our level of concern?
What can the government do to reduce the deficit numbers? Be specific, explaining how the numbers would be reduced, and if the government actually should use these methods of deficit reduction.
How has federal spending changed as a result of COVID-19, and what do you think this will do to the projections of the overall federal deficit and debt?
*Source: Ryan Bourne, US Only Country With Projected Rising Government Debt to GDP Ratio Through 2023, cato.org, April 19, 2018.

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