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the phrase "runaway national debt"

Those issues include America's runaway national debt and looming across-the-board spending cuts that will automatically take effect absent a deficit reduction agreement.
what is "runaway national debt"? And what is "looming across-the-board"?what is the meaning of "take effect absent"?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Runaway just means something is out of control. "The runaway car rolled down the hill and crashed into the school". Runaway debt means the government is spending a lot more money than they are receiving. The level of debt that they are creating is out of control - 'runaway national debt'.

    Looming is used to describe something big that will happen in the future. "The looming storm will damage many houses". Across the board means something that will apply to everyone or everything. "The company gave an across the board bonus at Christmas".

    So combining them, 'looming across-the-board' means something big that will happen in the future and apply to everyone or everything.

    "Take effect absent' is a way of saying something will happen regardless of something else. Even though they do not have a deficit reduction agreement, the spending cuts will happen anyway.

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