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Fun Facts About $16 Trillion in Federal Government Debt

Thursday September 6th, 2012   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:41am PDT   •  

On August 31, total U.S. government debt surpassed $16,000,000,000,000—that’s $16 trillion—for the first time, according to the Treasury Department. The exact amount of the debt on August 31 was $16,015,769,788,215.80, a full $25,000,000,000 – that’s $25 billion—more than what it was the day before on August 30. So the debt is now much more than $16,015,769,788,215.80. In fact, the debt is now greater than the entire U.S. economy, and that can’t be good.

As the Wall Street Journal observed, in the current fiscal year the government is currently running an average monthly deficit of $100 billion and “is likely to hit the debt ceiling sometime in late December.” The projected deficit of between $1.1 trillion and $1.2 trillion in the current fiscal year means that “spending will outpace tax revenue by that amount over 12 months.” Debt is actually caused by government spending more than it takes in. Just kind of a simple thing.

Federal government debt has increased approximately $5.4 trillion during the Obama administration, according to the Weekly Standard, and will stand at $16.2 trillion at the end of the current fiscal year. Federal debt now equals approximately $136,260 per U.S. household, according to CNS News, based on Census data, and up $45,848 per household under the current administration.

Conventional wisdom on the national debt, deriving from John Maynard Keynes, is that “we owe it to ourselves” and therefore government may continue endlessly to spend. But as William Tucker noted, the national debt “is owed to bondholders who have loaned money on the understanding that they are going to be paid back.” We also owe more than $1.25 trillion to China, which holds 36 percent of all U.S. Treasury securities held by foreign governments. Owing money to foreign nations is not owing it to ourselves.

As debt soars, the federal government is concerned that more Americans rely on their families for assistance than they do the government. Therefore the government has mounted efforts to help people apply for federal assistance. As the official website explains: “Use these resources to help your family cope with financial challenges.” No word here about the federal government’s financial challenges, such as more than $16 trillion in debt, and counting. As the late Everett Dirksen said, “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

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September 2012