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What are some opinions out there as to how high the national debt can go, assuming no major improvement in GDP growth rates, without having a crisis?

Let's assume 2.5% GDP growth for ten more years. I don't see how this would be strong enough to stop us from an eventual catastrophe. I don't know when this catastrophe might happen, but I just don't see how we avoid it.

In my opinion, the two major potential drivers for GDP would be a return to 1.5 million housing starts annually and a huge push into natural gas as a transportation fuel. If these were to both happen, I could see GDP growth rates well above 2.5%. Those seem like the only major things that could support GDP enough to support a $20 Trillion or $25 Trillion debt. I can easily see housing returning to normal, I am unsure about the change in transportation fuels however.

I suppose the alternative would be material cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements. My mother recently signed up for Social Security. She has already drawn more dollars in half a year than I have paid into Social Security in five years of working. After only two years of being on Social Security, she will have received more dollars than I have paid into Social Security in my entire life, including my employer match.

I don't expect any major changes to her payments, as politicians don't want to go there, and statistics say that 10,000 baby boomers per day retire.

So, back to the original question. How far can we go without a crisis?
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