Maya MacGuineas is the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan budget advisory group in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are her own. Read more opinion articles on CNN. (CNN)As a result of an unprecedented debt binge by Congress over the past year, the national debt is about to roar back to life as a pressing issue after years of hibernation. In 2010, it was among the nation’s top concerns. President Obama created a bipartisan national fiscal commission to come up with a plan to address it, but a big agreement ultimately failed. The debt didn’t go away. It has been growing by the second ever since, and the dominoes are about to start falling. The recent GOP tax cuts and bipartisan spending increases together will add $2.3 trillion to the national debt in the next10 years. If both are made permanent, that amount goes up to $5.1 trillion. And President Trump is already considering another $100 billion of capital-gains tax cuts. These sums accelerate a coming fiscal freefall and will push the nation over a psychological barrier as soon as next year: trillion-dollar annual deficits. The last time we had trillion-dollar deficits was during the Great Recession, and it was the understandable outcome of a huge economic downturn. This time it is purely self-imposed, resulting from irresponsible policy choices. And Washington is responding to trillion-dollar deficits by increasing them further with more plans for tax cuts and spending, with nary a peep about how to pay for them.
Several weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office laid bare in its annual long-term outlook the dire picture, and the next 15 years won’t be pretty. Here is how it will play out, if nothing is done.