U.S. Gross Debt Tops $31 Trillion

The gross national debt of the United States eclipsed $31 trillion yesterday, just nine months after the federal government’s gross debt exceeded $30 trillion on January 31, 2022.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: 

As of yesterday, the gross national debt is $31 trillion. This is a new record no one should be proud of.  In the past 18 months, we’ve witnessed inflation rise to a 40-year high, interest rates climbing in part to combat this inflation, and several budget-busting pieces of legislation and executive actions. Just in 2022, Congress and the President have approved a combined $1.9 trillion in new borrowing, and President Biden has approved $4.9 trillion in new deficits since taking office. We are addicted to debt.

For decades, lawmakers have chosen to pass politically easy policies rather than face the challenges of true governing. Consider this: it was only five years ago that our country marked $20 trillion in gross debt. While much of that new borrowing was necessary to combat COVID, we are now past the most severe challenges of the pandemic, and it is time to budget responsibly – yet we are still borrowing.

Even more troubling than where the debt stands now is where it’s going. Our nation faces significant fiscal challenges in the near term. Medicare is only six years from insolvency, and Social Security insolvency is only 12 years away. Yet policymakers have put forth no plan to put either program on strong fiscal footing.

As the end of the year approaches, it is time to remind policymakers that whether to grow the national debt further is within their control. At the very least, they should commit to no further borrowing in 2022 – it cannot be too much to ask that they practice paying for their priorities by abstaining from any new borrowing for just three months. The $31 trillion in debt is a staggering number that should keep them up at night.


For more information, please contact Kim McIntyre, Director of Media Relations, at mcintyre@crfb.org