When Will The United States Next Post a Balanced Budget?

Balancing the Budget - IllustrationHere's a question that is sure to confound your brain and keep you awake at night - when will be the next year that the United States posts a balanced budget?

The last time that the United States actually posted a balanced budget? 2001. In the 2001 fiscal year, the United States managed to post a surplus of $127.3 billion. This came after surpluses in 1998 ($69.2 billion), 1999 ($125.6 billion) and 2000 ($236.4 billion).

Since 2001, things have gone considerably downhill (to put it mildly) in the country. The last decade has been an ocean of red ink in the United States, with the years from 2009-2011 being particularly bad (deficits of $1.41 trillion, $1.294 trillion and an estimated deficit of $1.65 trillion in the 2011 fiscal year).

That's 10 straight years of deficit spending for the United States, and things aren't going to change anytime soon.

Here are the most recent deficit estimates from the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) for 2012-2021:

2012 - $1.1 trillion deficit
2013 - $704 billion deficit
2014 - $533 billion deficit
2015 - $551 billion deficit
2016 - $659 billion deficit
2017 - $617 billion deficit
2018 - $610 billion deficit
2019 - $696 billion deficit
2020 - $739 billion deficit
2021 - $763 billion deficit

As you can see, nothing even close to a balanced budget from now until 2021.


According to CNSNews.com, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer "said on Tuesday that it may take as many as 20 years to balance the federal budget after years of deficit spending in Washington".

Hoyer had this to say at his weekly press briefing:

"..we’re not going to get there [a balanced budget] in ten years, but we have to be on a very considered path to get there, certainly, within the next decade and a half or two decades.."

15-20 years?

Maybe I'm cynical, but I just don't see it happening. The country is going to have to make some major (and unpopular) changes in order to balance its budget by 2025 or 2030, and I just don't see these changes being instituted anytime soon.

Can you see the United States posting a balanced budget in 2025 or even 2030? If your answer is no, then when? If you had to pick a year, which year would it be? Or would you pick "never"?

Source: US Deficit and Surplus History

Filed under: The Economic Meltdown

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