Here’s how the U.S. got to $20 trillion in debt

The U.S. is approaching $20 trillion in national debt — the nation is a cool $19.85 trillion in the red as of Wednesday— and when it crosses that mark, get ready for some finger pointing over who’s to blame.

If history shows anything, it’s that both parties share responsibility for boosting the debt. Fighting wars, big tax cuts and economic stimulus packages have all added to the burden over the years.

Here, we’ll take a look at some key moments in the debt’s trajectory until now, and also where it is going.

In August 1981, with the U.S. at the beginning of a recession, President Ronald Reagan signed major tax cuts into law.

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