David Ditch of The Heritage Foundation says "the bulk of this problem" has occurred over the last 20 years.
"There has been a trend up 'til just now where interest rates were going down," he notes. "A lot of policymakers in Washington, D.C. viewed that as a free lunch to say, 'Oh, we don't need to worry about balancing the budget, or even coming close to balancing the budget; we'll just run up the national credit card, and as long as interest rates keep going down, there's no problem.'"
But Ditch points out that interest rates never remain hyper-low permanently, so now, the problem is the debt is high and so are the annual deficits.
"What they call the baseline deficit is over $1 trillion per year, soon on its way to $2 trillion per year," he explains. "And when you add in rising interest rates, again, it becomes what's known as a debt spiral."
That can put the country in a situation that calls for drastic spending cuts that were unplanned for, big tax hikes that take the knees out of economic recovery, and/or major inflation or sustained inflation.
"There's no easy way out of it," the policy analyst concedes. "What's so vital is that legislators start taking action now, because the longer they wait, the longer they keep kicking the can down the road, the harder the solutions become."
As was reported earlier this week, the gross national debt has surpassed $31 trillion.