Deficits and debt: Understanding the difference in Biden’s 2024 budget proposal

Written by on March 9, 2023

US President Joe Biden arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on March 9, 2023, as he travels to Philadelphia.

WASHINGTON – The president’s annual budget proposal has arrived – and so has the annual debate over deficits and debt.

They are two very different things.

What is the deficit?

The deficit, simply put, is the difference between the revenues the government takes in and the amount of money it spends in a given budget year – and annual spending is usually higher than revenues.

Right now, “the federal government has spent $460 billion more than it has collected in fiscal year (FY) 2023,” according to a Treasury Department report.

Money plan:Biden defends $6.9 trillion budget proposal, GOP calls plan for 2024 ‘misguided’

What is the federal debt?  

The national debt is the accumulation of all those deficits over all those years – it’s currently pegged at $31.46 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

“The national debt ($31.46 T) is the total amount of outstanding borrowing by the U.S. Federal Government accumulated over the nation’s history,” the department said in a report.

The Biden budget

President Joe Biden and his aides said the budget proposed Thursday will reduce budget deficits by nearly $3 trillion over ten years, thanks to higher taxes on the wealthy and savings in health care programs and cutting wasteful spending on behalf of big corporations.

“I did all we did and all the stuff you guys wanted me doing and some more, and we still cut the deficit in the last two years by $1.7 trillion,” Biden told supporters earlier this week.

Biden and allies also note that their predecessors in the Donald Trump administration ran up huge deficits – and debt – with tax cuts.

Details, details:Takeaways from Biden’s $6.9 trillion budget proposal: Tax the rich. Cut the deficit. Take on the GOP.

The GOP and deficits and debt 

Republicans are skeptical, saying Biden still wants to spend too much money.

“President Joe Biden’s budget is a reckless proposal doubling down on the same Far Left spending policies that have led to record inflation and our current debt crisis,” said a statement from House Republican leadership.

Debt ceiling

Deficits and debt could also be affected the current dispute over the debt ceiling, which limits the amount of money the government can borrow to pay its bills.

Congressional Republicans say they will not increase the debt ceiling unless the Biden administration and Democrats agree to major spending cuts.

Biden and allies said refusing to increase the debt ceiling would lead to a government default on its bills and a recession – and more increases in deficits and debt.

Current track



Current show


3:00 pm 5:00 pm

Current show


3:00 pm 5:00 pm