Federal debt will mount faster than previously projected toward an all-time high, according to new figures released Tuesday from the Congressional Budget Office.
The agency projected that the federal debt will rise from roughly 75 percent of U.S. economic output today to 122 percent in 2040, up from an estimate of 107 percent last year. In years after that, it would continue growing, eventually reaching 141 percent in 2046.
The record high for federal debt held by the public was set at 106 percent of output in 1945, after the run-up in defense spending for the military effort in World War II.
In a series of warnings typical of long-term budget projections it has released in recent years, the agency said that rising debt over the next few decades would lower savings and income, force Congress to make unpopular choices, hamstring the government's ability to respond to crises, and raise the risk of a European-style fiscal crisis.
Driving the growing debt, the office said, is growing spending on old-age programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
If Congress wanted to make sure that federal debt stayed at the same level in 2046 that it is today, the budget office calculated, it would have to cut spending or raise taxes by $330 billion every year starting next year, or about $1,000 per person.
The Congressional Budget Office is the official, non-partisan agency that provides budget and economic projections for Congress.