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GAO: Public Debt-to-GDP Ratio to Surpass Historical High Within 15 Years

A Government Accountability Office report obtained by Deltek predicts the ratio of U.S. public debt to gross domestic product to grow and exceed the historical high of 106 percent in 1946 within the next 15 to 25 years and continue to rise beyond that period.

John Slye wrote in a blog post published Tuesday GAO said such a fiscal path is unsustainable and would put more pressure on the federal budget, increase the chance of a future fiscal crisis and restrict lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances if left unaddressed.

The report titled The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Action Is Needed to Address the Federal Government’s Fiscal Future also found that federal deficit rose from $439 billion in fiscal year 2015 to $587 billion in FY 2016.

GAO noted that the U.S. government posted an $18 billion increase in receipts associated with taxes and other collections between FY 2015 and 2016.

Federal spending in FY 2016 reached $3.8 trillion, up $166.5 billion from last year’s spending.

The document also showed that federal debt totalled $19.7 trillion in fiscal 2016, about $1.4 trillion higher from last year driven by the increase in public and intragovernmental debt.

GAO urged the U.S. government to reduce improper payments, address the tax gap, build up management data through the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 and continue initiatives to reduce duplication, among other recommendations.

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