The Federal government's growing debt is the biggest threat to long-term economic growth, according to a panel of economists.
According to media reports, the survey of 47 economists showed that the national deficit was a 4.1 level of concern, on a scale from one to five. The report, which was conducted by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), was released on Feb. 28.
In November, the same panel of economists projected that the deficit would be $1.1 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011. However, President Barack Obama's extension of George W. Bush's tax breaks has led experts to raise their debt forecast to $1.4 trillion by September. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the gap will reach $1.5 trillion by the end of the fiscal year.
"Factors restraining growth include financial headwinds, uncertainty about future Federal government economic policies, a tepid housing market and sustained high unemployment," said NABE president Richard Wobbekind in a statement, quoted by Reuters.
The national debt is a point of contention on Capitol Hill as lawmakers face a government shutdown if a new budget is not approved by March 4. Republicans want to make sweeping cuts to the spending bill, while Democrats are concerned that a reduced budget will hinder economic growth.