The Role of Government: The National Debt vs. The Deficit


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Read the article on Debt and Deficits and watch the videos, Budget Deficits and the Public Debt and What's Driving Up the Federal Debt? Then respond to the following questions/statements: 

  1. Define the national debt.
  2. What is the federal deficit?
  3. What is the difference between the national debt and the federal deficit?
  4. Has the federal budget deficit increased or decreased in the past two years?
  5. Did the United States have a federal deficit or surplus in 2015? How much?
  6. Has the national debt been increasing or decreasing in the past two years?
  7. Why has the national debt been increasing?
  8. During what period of time was the debt held by the public (as a share of GDP) the highest?


Refer to the Federal Budget Infographic  , Federal Deficits, 1966 to 2015 and Federal Debt, 1966 to 2015.  

1. Approximately how many years did the U.S. have a surplus? 

2. During which years was the deficit the greatest (as a percentage of GDP?) 

3. Over the last fifty years, what has been the average debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP? 

4. What was the percentage of debt held by the public as a share of GDP at the end of 2015? 



Research the statements the 2016 presidental candidates have made regarding the debt and deficit and summarize their positions.