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Tags: US | debt | woes | Greece

Heritage's Boccia: US Debt Woes Bear Some Similarities to Greece

By    |   Monday, 20 July 2015 08:30 AM EDT

Greece isn't the only country with a major debt problem. The U.S. federal government owes creditors $18 trillion.

While no one would put the two economies in the same basket, there are some troubling commonalities, says Romina Boccia, research manager at The Heritage Foundation.

As for the differences, "the U.S. economy is much larger and better diversified," she writes in The National Interest. U.S. GDP totals $17.4 trillion, compared to $237.6 billion for Greece.

Americans hold more than 50 percent of U.S. debt, and the U.S. has its own currency.

But, "despite the differences, the fiscal pressures confronting the United States spring from sources similar to those afflicting Greece," Boccia maintains. "Growing spending on public benefits threatens to overwhelm the U.S. economy in the long term."

She cites Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs. "They consume more than half of the budget, and spending on these programs is growing steeply." We need to "reform unaffordable and outdated benefit programs," Boccia says.

Peter Peterson, the iconic former Commerce Secretary and co-founder of Blackstone Group, also is concerned about the United States in light of Greece's debt crisis.

He too acknowledges our financial and economic position is much stronger than the beleaguered European nation. "Nonetheless, there are important lessons to be learned about the benefits of long-term planning and maintaining fiscal health and flexibility," Peterson writes in USA Today.

"Without question, the United States remains on a fiscal path that is unsustainable and dangerous by any international standard."

He cites a recent Congressional Budget Office estimate that the federal government's debt will exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2040 based on current policy. That would do major damage to the economy, the CBO warns.

"Interest costs alone will reach $5.5 trillion over the next decade, and are on a path to exceed all federal revenues," Peterson says. "That's an absurd fiscal trajectory for any country to put itself on, especially a strong nation such as America."

The CBO projects a budget deficit of $486 billion, or 2.7 percent of GDP, for this year, little changed from $485 billion last year. But it sees the number soaring to $696 billion in 2020.

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Greece isn't the only country with a major debt problem. The U.S. federal government owes creditors $18 trillion.
US, debt, woes, Greece
Monday, 20 July 2015 08:30 AM
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