The next decade will see interest payments on the national debt quadruple, forcing every American to essentially pay more than $2,500 yearly, the Washington Post finds in a look at President Obama’s budget plan. That means that starting in 2014, net interest payments will exceed spending on all discretionary programs besides defense—including education, energy, and transportation. In 2018, the payments will be greater than Medicare spending.
"This goes to the heart of why we have to address our fiscal problems," says one economist. "If we don't, we're going to get swamped by our interest payments." Those payments, in fact, are one of the biggest barriers to balancing the budget, the Post notes. Without them, Obama’s plan would balance the budget by 2017. Instead net interest payments will have climbed to $627 billion per year by then, up from $207 billion this year.