National Debt The Quick Facts

  • In 2011 the US borrowed $1,316,000,000,000 trillion.  A little less then we borrowed in 2010 at over $1,400,000,000,000 trillion.
  • Both years that was more than enough to cover our discretionary spending. Which means we borrowed to fund most government services including defense, education, infrastructure, energy and research & development.
  • Without changes to current fiscal policies public debt* will reach 200% of GDP by 2038.
  • In 2010 publicly held debt rose from $7,600,000,000,000 to $9,000,000,000,000.
  • Gross debt was at nearly $15,000,000,000,000 by the end of 2011.
  • Interest payments on our debt are predicted to rise from $196 billion to $917 billion in 2021.  That’s assuming that countries doesn’t begin to demand higher yields on our debt.  We think that number will be closer to $1 trillion in 2021.
  • To put interest into perspective the US spent $477 billion on all discretionary programs and $835 billion on defense in 2011.
  • Medicare and Medicaid, by far our largest problem in terms of the debt, are expected to cost taxpayers around $38 trillion over the next 50 years
  • Over the long haul Social Security is about $9.2 trillion short, requiring the government to come up with $114 billion a year on average to cover the gap
  • In reality the US government has a debt of over $76,000,000,000,000 including unfunded liabilities*

*Public debt (Find Debt Review programs) is what the government has borrowed through the sale of treasury bonds ie. personal loans.  Gross includes what the government has borrowed from itself, mainly from social security.

* An unfunded liability is a debt the government has with no way to pay for.  Typically this term refers to Medicare and parts of Social Security.  “But I pay a lot of taxes for both those!” You’re right.  These programs got this way do mostly to mismanagement by the government and our politicians promising more than they knew that could deliver.

Sources: Office of Management and Budget, Financial Report of the United States Government


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