The fastest growing item in the budget is the net interest payment to the nation’s creditors, according to Republican staff on the Senate Budget Committee.
With a current federal debt of about $17.5 trillion, the Congressional Budget Office projects that in 2014 taxpayers will foot the bill for $233 billion in interest payments alone. By 2024, the CBO believes that those payments will nearly quadruple to $880 billion.
“Every dollar spent paying our creditors is a dollar wasted — money for which we get nothing in return. Interest payments threaten to crowd out every other budget item,” GOP Senate Budget Committee staff write in a memo released Wednesday.
To put the $880 billion 2024 projection in perspective, the committee staff broke down current spending on other budget items:
Federal Courts – $7.4 billion
Department of Education – $56.7 billion
Secret Service – $1.8 billion
Food Inspection – $2.3 billion
Census Bureau – $1.0 billion
Border Patrol – $12.3 billion
National Parks – $3.0 billion
NASA – $17.6 billion
Centers for Disease Control – $7.1 billion
Federal Prison System – $6.9 billion
Workplace Safety Inspections – $0.9 billion
Immigration and Customs Enforcement – $5.6 billion
FDA – $2.6 billion
Federal Highway Budget – $40.4 billion
Coast Guard – $10.0 billion
Small Business Loans – $0.9 billion
Veterans’ Health Care – $55.3 billion
FBI – $8.3 billion
The committee staff note that, in addition to overtaking the federal budget, the payments could “threaten to plunge the nation into fiscal crisis.”
“Even a modest rise in interest rates could lead to a financial emergency, with the U.S. facing a dangerous spiral of rising interest costs and increased borrowing to finance those interest costs,” they speculate.