Tha National Debt

Topics: United States public debt, Government debt, Tax Pages: 2 (703 words) Published: November 8, 2011
The U.S. debt is over $14.5 trillion, and is the sum of all outstanding debt owed by the Federal Government. Nearly two-thirds is the public debt, which is owed to the people, businesses and foreign governments who bought Treasury bills, notes and bonds. The rest is owed by the government to itself, and is held as Government Account securities. Most of this is owed to Social Security and other trust funds, which were running surpluses. These securities are a promise to repay these funds when Baby Boomers retire over the next 20 years. The U.S. debt is the largest in the world. How did it get so large? Purchasers of Treasury bills still reasonably expect the U.S. economy to recover enough to pay them back. For foreign investors like China and Japan, the U.S. is such a large customer it is allowed to run a huge tab so it will keep buying exports. Even before the economic crisis, the U.S. debt grew 50% between 2000-2007, ballooning from $6-$9 trillion. The $700 billion bailout helped the debt grow to $10.5 trillion by December 2008. Interest on the debt was $414 billion in Fiscal Year 2010, higher than the $383 billion in FY 2009, but lower than its peak of $451 billion in FY 2008. That's because of lower interest rates. The interest on the debt is the fifth largest Federal budget item, after Defense and Security spending ($890 billion), Social Security ($730 billion) and Medicare ($490 billion). Government debt is an accumulation of budget deficits. Year after year, the government cut taxes and increased spending. In the short run, the economy and voters benefited from deficit spending. Usually, however, holders of the debt want larger interest payments to compensate for what they perceive as an increasing risk that they won't be repaid. This added interest payment expense usually forces a government to keep debt within reasonable limits. The U.S. also has a debt ceiling, which attempts to limit the debt. However, Congress usually raises the ceiling to prevent...
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