The New Report: The National Debt

By Marcia Clemmitt, November 14, 2008

Has it gotten too big?

With the national debt now more than $10 trillion -- twice what it was eight years ago -- the country faces a dire financial future, some analysts argue. Over the past eight years, the Bush administration has run larger and larger annual deficits, adding to the national debt and restricting the government’s ability to respond to a new crisis. Now, with the U.S. and global financial meltdown ushering in a potentially catastrophic economic slowdown, the next president -- newly elected Sen. Barack Obama -- will be under pressure to use government fiscal policy, such as tax cuts and government spending, to bolster the economy, even though those actions will raise the debt further. Besides wrestling with that dilemma, the new president also must face the question of how to pay for spiraling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the nation’s 77 million baby boomers.

* Is the national debt too big?
* Will Social Security bust the federal budget?
* Do foreigners hold too much of our national debt?

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