The U.S. national debt exceeded $30 trillion for the first time. Increase from pre-pandemic levels fueled by trillions of dollars spent on aid programs. Total public debt outstanding was $30.01 trillion as of Jan. 31, Treasury Department says.

Total public debt outstanding was $30.01 trillion as of Jan. 31. That was a nearly $7 trillion increase from late January 2020, just before the pandemic hit. The debt milestone comes at a time of transition for U.S. fiscal and monetary policy.

Many of the federal pandemic aid programs authorized by Congress have expired. The Federal Reserve has signaled it could soon begin to raise short-term interest rates from near zero. “This is a jaw-dropping number that is a real cause for concern,” said Maya MacGuineas.

“It is the result of both borrowing for really important crises, most notably the Covid pandemic, but also trillions and trillions of borrowing for no reason other than politicians have stopped being willing to pay the bills,” he says. Congress during the Trump and Biden administrations authorized trillions of dollars in spending for pandemic programs.
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