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Karl W. Smith

The Big Question: Is America Headed For a Debt Crisis?

A Q&A with deficit hawk Maya MacGuineas on how the U.S.’s borrowing binge has weakened the economy and why future generations will pay the price.

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This is one of a series of interviews by Bloomberg Opinion columnists on how to solve today’s most pressing policy challenges. It has been condensed and edited.

Karl W. Smith: The last four years or so have been tumultuous on fiscal policy. We had a deficit-financed tax cut by a Republican Congress and Republican president, followed by an equally significant deficit-financed spending increase by a divided Congress and that same president. And of course, we’ve had these three massive COVID relief bills. Now the Biden administration is talking about two more very large spending bills. 

You’re the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan organization that has long warned that the size of the national debt is unsustainable. How would you assess the U.S.’s fiscal situation relative to what it’s been in the past? And where is it likely to go?