Here’s How Long It Would Take You to Pay Off Your Share of the National Debt

A group of Republican senators sent an alarming letter last week about the impact of the spiraling national debt on ordinary Americans.


How will America ever pay back so much money?


The letter, signed by a dozen GOP senators, asked the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office to assess the effects of “rapid acceleration of interest rates” on national debt of $31 trillion and counting.

America owes about $185,000 per worker.

  • It would take more than three years of the median earner’s pre-tax wages to pay off his or her share of the national debt, based on standard wage growth and the CBO’s projections of the national debt.
  • As the senators noted, the CBO has predicted the debt will continue to grow to an all-time record of 110% of GDP by the end of 2032.


In order to tame runaway inflation, fueled in large part by pandemic stimulus spending, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, which will make borrowing even more expensive, the senators pointed out.

  • Interest payments on the national debt could exceed U.S. defense spending by 2025-2026, according to a new forecast from Moody’s Analytics.
  • Soaring debt costs will likely force the federal government to raise taxes while cutting back on discretionary spending, “reducing lawmakers’ ability to fund critical projects for taxpayers,” the senators warned.
  • Discretionary spending will be squeezed even more by rising mandatory spending on entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, which is projected to increase from  7.9% to 12.6% of GDP from 2019-2051, according to the Manhattan Institute.