From surplus to debt
In 2000, the United States had $3.4 trillion in debt held by the public. Based on policies in place at the time, the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2001 that the country could pay off its debt by the year 2008 and by 2011 have a $2.3 trillion surplus.
SOURCES: Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative analysis of CBO data. By Alicia Parlapiano/The Washington Post.