The Senate canceled next week’s recess to address the country’s debt crisis. It’s an issue in the headlines every day as lawmakers and the White House debate a debt-reduction plan. Why does it matter?

The national debt is set to explode in the coming decades as spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security skyrockets. Even the International Monetary Fund has warned United States that it must reduce its debt or face serious economic consequences. Without action, the national debt will eventually reach a staggering 344 percent of GDP.

So maybe it’s not such a bad idea for the Senate to skip vacation after all.

Each week we’ll bring you a new chart that explains the implications of federal spending, debt and deficits. But you don’t have to wait until we post them to see them. View, download and share all 42 info-graphics included in the 2011 Budget Chart Book.