History of the National Debt 1776 to 2004


And then in 2008 Bush and the banking industry on Wall Street left Obama with a financial crisis and the debt soared even higher in an effort to fix Bush's incompetence.

Followed by banks giving their CEOs and top execs record year end bonuses.

When the Obama Administration tried to punish those banks for fraudulently abusing the bailout money given to them, it was already too late.

But hopefully now the American people have learned that the banks cannot be trusted. Next time the banks start claiming doom and gloom, I say let the banks fail... And then create a new government owned bank that manages mortgages for Americans - and skip the middlemen bankers with their greedy paws out.

That or cut off all government funding for mortgages and credit. Let the banks come up with their own sources of credit.

USA Pays Down National Debt $35 Billion

The U.S. government expects to pay down debt in the current quarter for the first time in six years, the Treasury Department said on Monday, citing stronger-than-expected revenues.

It said it would pay down $35 billion in net marketable debt in the April-June quarter, and would likely end the quarter with a cash balance of $75 billion. In February, it estimated that it would need to borrow $103 billion, even as it projected a smaller end-of-quarter cash balance.

It is the first retirement of government debt since a $145 billion paydown in the April-June 2007 quarter.

The Treasury also said it expects to issue $223 billion in net marketable debt for the July-September quarter and end the quarter with a cash balance of $80 billion.

The Treasury said it issued $349 billion in net marketable debt securities in the January-March 2013 quarter.

A decrease in the supply of government debt has forced some money fund managers and cash investors to scramble for alternatives. Higher demand for commercial paper, repurchase agreements and other short-term private debt has knocked down borrowing costs on Wall Street.

The Treasury has sharply reduced its issuance of bills in the past couple of weeks, and analysts said further reductions are likely this quarter given the bigger-than-expected tax receipts.

They said, however, that the Treasury was unlikely to scale back monthly offerings of longer-dated debt.

"It's not going to persist through the end of the year," Nancy Vanden Houten, an analyst at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates in Princeton, New Jersey, said of the unexpectedly large surge in receipts. Tax receipts tend to be "quite volatile this time of the year."

5 Things You Should Know About America's National Debt

House Republicans are certain that the national debt has grown large enough to crush the U.S. economy, so they passed a budget that slices away much of what they see as a bloated Federal budget.

President Obama and many Democrats disagree with the GOP view. They claim that the debt needs to be stabilized at its current level, so that it doesn’t consume an ever-larger share of Gross Domestic Product. That belief is expected to be reinforced by the White House budget that will be unveiled on April 10.

This simple philosophical difference will be a source of gridlock on the budget for much of the year. But when it comes to hard data on who is right and wrong, our policymakers are flying blind. Several theories abound, but there is no consensus on the exact point at which a government’s debt suffocates a private economy. All we do know is that the greater the debt, the closer we are to some danger. And because budgets are submitted with ten-year horizons, what happens through 2023 might test just how dangerous the United States is willing to be.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favors putting in a long-term plan to mop up the government’s red ink, yet even he acknowledged during a 2010 speech that it’s not clear when a country goes from treading through red ink to drowning in it.

“Neither experience nor economic theory clearly indicates the threshold at which government debt begins to endanger prosperity and economic stability,” Bernanke said.

With that in mind, here is what you need to know when thinking about the upcoming political slugfest:

• Our National Debt Is High Relative to the Past – Not a surprise. The government racked up huge annual deficits in recent years to stop the 2008 financial crisis from becoming the sequel to the Great Depression. The amount of debt held by the public is equal to about 76 percent of GDP, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is almost double the historic ratio of 39 percent. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) claims his proposal would reduce the current debt-to-GDP ratio to 54.8 percent in 2023.

• Why 80 Percent Isn’t the Tipping Point – Morgan Stanley’s David Greenlaw and two other economists issued a study in February indicating that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 80 percent puts the country on the path of a downward spiral.

Not necessarily. The case study holds true for Greece, but that country couldn’t inflate its way out of the problem by printing its own money. The United States can in theory run the printing presses at full speed, so it might have a safety valve that the Greeks did not with the euro. Inflation is generally regarded as a negative—except when governments use it to manage out-of-control debt. Like everything in economics, there are tradeoffs to this strategy—prices for food and gasoline surge, ostensibly making much of the country that is already struggling even worse off.

Then there is the question about interest rates. If the markets are really efficient, they should start selling off bonds the second that 80 percent threshold is crossed, causing interest rates to skyrocket in a way that slows down growth. But, of course, markets don’t always behave as predicted.

• Why 90 Percent Might Not Be the Tipping Point, Either – The economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff recently examined eight centuries’ worth of countries going bankrupt. Their research suggests that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent is when the panic button should be hit. Paul Ryan has cited this finding in previous budget plans.

Decent rule of thumb. Maybe it’s accurate. Laura D’Andrea Tyson, an economist who has advised both Bill Clinton and President Obama, has a bone to pick with their research. It confuses “correlation and causality,” she said at the annual conference of the National Association of Business Economics last month.

In other words, the research doesn’t show whether the debt caused the slow economy, or whether the slow economy caused the debt. This is a key nuance. In a normal economy, high government debt can crowd out private investment in a normal economy. But when an economy is in free fall—think about the start of 2009—tax revenues plummet as government spending increases, causing the government to cope with a financial shortfall.

Trying to lower the debt-to-GDP ratio without thinking about broader economic growth can be a disaster, as seen in the United Kingdom where austerity has not sutured the annual deficits as promised. In that case, what is needed is actually more economic growth to ultimately tame the debt. And this is the haunting part of this possibility—if the United States cannot restore a stronger level of growth, a day of reckoning with our bondholders might be inevitable.

• Who Holds the Debt Matters – The identity of your bondholders often determines how much debt is acceptable. Are they cautious savers? Are they huge investment funds looking for a quick buck? Their background dictates their expectations.

Japan tends to spoil most theories about dangerous debt loads. It has a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 220 percent, yet the interest rate on its 10-year bond is slightly more than half of a percent point.

So what gives? Much of Japan’s debt is held domestically, explained Stanford University economist John Taylor, who has advised House Speaker John Boehner. Because the Japanese people own the huge debt, they’re more tolerant of maintaining a ratio that defies most economic theories.

In this case, the United States is different. Half of our debt is controlled by central banks, sovereign wealth funds, and foreigners. This is a much more volatile mix, so it’s unlikely that our national debt can ever climb to Japan-like extremes. “When governments are making decisions, it’s harder to predict what they will do,” Taylor said after appearing on an NABE conference panel.

• Your Elected Leaders Matter – Debt isn’t just a numbers game. Bondholders also need to have some confidence in the politicians. If their distrust of the president and Congress becomes too deep, they will sell the bonds and interest rates will rise.

D’Andrea Tyson noted that in Italy, a relatively “stable” debt-to-GDP ratio became unstable because of “who the leaders are.” For all their sniping, Obama and Boehner have yet to inspire this level of pessimism.

But they may want to take a lesson from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – and refrain from any “bunga bunga” parties.

Obama's Achilles Heel: China

UNITED STATES - The US National Debt continues to go up $3.87 billion USD per day and is currently hovering around $12.4 trillion.

The problem is its going to continue to skyrocket as long as the United States is fighting off a recession, two wars and high oil prices. US President Barack Obama thus has his work cut out for him, problems left behind by George W. Bush, and his problems are quantified by the statement that "Most Americans don't buy American, they buy Chinese."
"Most Americans don't buy American, they buy Chinese."
That is not completely true. What is true that on average the USA imports $2 trillion USD worth of products every year of which approx. $300 billion is from China (approx 15%).

That is peanuts when you realize the USA only exports an average of $65 billion to China annually. The end result is an annual trade deficit of $235 billion taken out of the American economy and bolstering China's economy.

China is not the only country that enjoys a trade deficit with the United States. Japan, South Korea and numerous other countries trade heavily with the USA, often in products that Americans "need" in terms of electronics, but also a lot of products that could be made in North America but has been outsourced instead.

What the USA needs is more factories inside America that is hiring people, making products Americans can use (preferably products and equipment that will make them more competitive internationally) and are priced fairly.

Otherwise what we're opening ourselves up to is to communism... Oh dear, I said it. The dreaded C-word.

If the USA cannot shake off the recession and high unemployment rate America's economy will continue to flounder and will eventually be forced to create a more socialist-based economy as capitalism falls apart. This means government "work-fare programs", huge cutbacks to arts & culture funding (including Hollywood), an increase in food stamp usage, and a skyrocketing crime rate as Americans become more desperate for survival.

The 1st thing the USA needs to do is put a halt on all free trade discussions with Asia. America isn't ready for such big trading partners. The economy is too fragile right now.

The 2nd thing the USA needs to do is find cheaper alternatives to expensive oil. Oil prices are simply too high and its hampering transportation costs of materials/products. Hydrogen power perhaps.

The 3rd thing the USA needs to do is cut taxes on the poor, increase taxes on the rich. The poor will spend every dollar they have anyway, whereas the rich have a tendency to stick their money in the bank and sit on it.

The 4th thing is create tax breaks for companies that operate solely in the USA. This will benefit small businesses and new startups.

The 5th thing the USA needs to do is enforce mandatory retirements. Old people who keep working when they should be retired are essentially stealing jobs from younger Americans. Exceptions can be made for industries that have a shortage (ie. doctors), but otherwise these people need to be put out to pasture.

The end goal is to get more Americans working and building things again, creating opportunities for a new generation of hard working Americans.

China passes Japan as largest creditor for US National Debt

November 20th 2008.

China has bought more of the US National Debt and has now surpassed Japan as the largest creditor. China's investment in U.S. Treasury bonds surged to $585 billion in September 2008, surging past Japan's $573.2 billion worth.

The debt purchase by China raises the US dollar while devaluing the Yuan, hurts American manufacturers and creates the potential for US banks to raise interest rates in the future.

See: China buys more US debt, passes Japan for more details.

US National Debt Clock Runs Out of Digits

October 9th 2008

UNITED STATES - The clock has run out on the national debt.

The national debt clock, the unofficial tracker of the federal budget deficit maintained by the Durst Organization in New York, has reached its limits. Last month, as the national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time, the clock ran out of digits to record the number.

The dollar sign in the clock had to be deleted and replaced with a one to record the massive number. The clock’s owners say a new model — with space for two extra digits — will be in place early next year.

Now the debt clock will be able to reach the quadrillions. Hopefully, that’s not a level that will be breached any time soon.

National Debt Passes $10 Trillion, Few Notice

October 7th 2008

UNITED STATES - There are enough signs of the apocalypse already: the global financial crisis, reports that one in four mammals are at risk of extinction, the Cubs (briefly) making the playoffs. So maybe it's no surprise that a huge milestone (or tombstone perhaps) slipped by without much notice. The national debt broke $10 trillion on Sept. 30, but honestly there was so much going on that we can forgive everyone for being distracted. Including us.

Ten trillion is an almost unimaginable number -- so colossal that the even the people who worry about debt had trouble anticipating it. The National Debt Clock in Times Square, for example, didn't even have room for that many digits. On Sept. 30, they had to squeeze the "1" and the dollar sign into the same box.

How much is a trillion dollars anyway? Like we all learned in school, it's a thousand billions, and as the old line goes, "a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money." But the difference between a billion and a trillion is staggering.

With a billion dollars, you could keep about 45,000 people in a four-year college for a year -- or, depending on their behavior, in jail. The College Board says private tuition and fees average $22,218 per year; the Bureau of Justice Statistics says the average cost per inmate is $22,650 per year. With a trillion dollars, you could cover tuition for 45 million people -- and in 2006 there were only 17 million students enrolled in college nationwide.

You could think of lots of good ways to spend $10 trillion, but the point is that we don't have it -- we owe it. And hold on, folks, there's more. Just to name a few:

This problem is getting worse. We're adding to the debt at mind-boggling rates. In fact we're spending more on interest on the national debt than we're spending on the Iraq war. For 2008, the budget deficit was projected to be more than $400 billion - but that was before the Wall Street bailout. Not only did the Congressional Budget Office project a $400 billion deficit this year, they also anticipated a $400 billion deficit, next year, and the year after that, with further deficits for the next decade. The numbers could be much worse than that. The financial crisis and the recession that will almost certainly follow will reduce tax revenues because people who are unemployed and businesses that are losing money don't pay taxes. So those figures are optimistic.

We're borrowing to pay for the Wall Street bailout. True, as many have pointed out, the government may actually make money on the bailout in the long run. The bad debts the government buys should be worth something at some point, so the final bill may well be less than $700 billion. But that may be years off -- the money we have to shell out up front will be paid over the next two years. At no point during the ragged, torturous congressional debate did we really talk about how the government's going to pay for this. No one's talking about tax increases or spending cuts to cover it. And when politicians don't specify how they're going to pay for something, that means they're going to borrow. And, by the way, those little "sweeteners" -- the Congressional earmarks for children's wooden arrows, racetracks and the rums of Puerto Rico -- are paid for with red ink too.

The irony of the government borrowing to head off the consequences of bad debts speaks for itself. The good news is that the U.S. government is one of the few institutions out there that can borrow. Banks won't loan to each other, much less businesses and consumers, but the U.S. Treasury bond is one of the few safe havens left. And many would argue that this is not the time to quibble - when you're trying to put out a fire, you don't worry about where the water is coming from. But after the fire is put out, the debts are going to remain.

We've got more big bills on the way, and no plan to pay them. The Government Accountability Office estimates that rising health care costs and the retirement of the baby boomers mean a cool $53 trillion in "unfunded liabilities" ahead of us over the next several decades . By 2040, if nothing changes, the government won't have any money for anything other than Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and paying interest on the money we've already borrowed.

You know, of course, how the bank insists that you have a specific schedule to pay back your car loan or mortgage? (Never mind that this isn't working out for lots of people right now). Well, the government doesn't have one. The plan for paying off the national debt can be summed up as "maybe someday we'll have a surplus again, and we can pay it down." As for that $53 trillion in liabilities, that depends entirely on whether we as a nation can come up with a politically viable plan to fix Social Security and Medicare. You know how well that's gone in the past.

Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain is talking about this problem. In fact what they're saying right now will make the problem worse. If you saw the first presidential debate, you saw Jim Lehrer try to pin these guys down on how the Wall Street bailout would affect their plans. You also saw them both duck the questions. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says McCain's plans would increase the national debt by $5 trillion over the next 10 years, while Obama's would increase the debt by $3.5 trillion. Right now one of the biggest unspoken campaign promises for both men is to offer you lots of tax cuts and/or new programs the country doesn't have the money for.

Like everyone else, we're praying that the U.S. bailout and the world's central banks can put out this financial fire, fast. Realistically, the country is going to be adding a lot to the national debt over the next few years. There's no way around it, and frankly balancing the budget during a recession is difficult and may not even be advisable. But once we've got the private sector's bad debts under control, we've got to get the federal government's debt under control, too. The long-term problem for the federal government is predictable, inevitable -- and completely solvable, if politicians show some leadership and the public starting demanding some real answers.

Bush Administration Adds $4 Trillion To National Debt

September 29th 2008

UNITED STATES - With no fanfare and little notice, the national debt has grown by more than $4 trillion during George W. Bush’s presidency.

It’s the biggest increase under any president in U.S history.

On the day President Bush took office, the national debt stood at $5.727 trillion. The latest number from the Treasury Department shows the national debt now stands at more than $9.849 trillion. That’s a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bush’s watch.

The bailout plan now pending in Congress could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt – though President Bush said this morning he expects that over time, “much if not all” of the bailout money “will be paid back.”

But the government is taking no chances. Buried deep in the hundred pages of bailout legislation is a provision that would raise the statutory ceiling on the national debt to $11.315 trillion. It’ll be the 7th time the debt limit has been raised during this administration. In fact it was just two months ago, on July 30, that President Bush signed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which contained a provision raising the debt ceiling to $10.615 trillion.

Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto declined an invitation to comment on the enormous jump in the national debt during Mr. Bush’s presidency. He referred me to OMB – the Office of Management and Budget, which tried to make the case that as a percentage of the economy, the national debt is not that big.

In its budget documents in February, OMB estimated that next year’s national debt would hit $10.4 trillion – which it said would amount to 69.3 percent of the gross domestic product – the standard measure of the size of the economy.

That’s high – but far from an all-time high. After World War II, the national debt soared to over $270 billion – a quaint figure by today’s standards. Numerically, it’s less than the amount of federal budget deficit we now run up in a single year. But back in 1946, the Debt amounted to 121.7 percent of the size of the total economy.

By the time Richard Nixon began his second term in 1973, the national debt had grown to $466 billion – though as percentage of GDP, it had fallen to 35.7 percent.

Today, OMB press secretary Corinne Hirsch, renewed the oft-made government argument that reporters should focus on just that part of the national debt that is held by the public – now about $5.6 trillion and not include that portion billed as “intra-governmental holdings” – money the government owes itself – especially the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

Of course, the government doesn’t have that money either. It’s been spent.

President Bush made that point himself on April 5, 2005, when he paid a visit to the offices of the Bureau of the Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va.

He was shown a white file cabinet with keypad locks on each of its four drawers in which the Social Security Trust Fund is stored. On that day, there was no cash – as he noted in a speech later in the day.

“There is no 'trust fund,' just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay – will pay for either in higher taxes, or reduced benefits, or cuts to other critical government programs,” he told an audience at West Virginia University.

The government didn’t have the money it owed itself back then – and still doesn’t.

A couple of weeks after he took office, President Bush addressed the Republican Congressional Retreat in Williamsburg and declared that his budget “pays down the national debt.”

In recent years, President Bush almost never mentions the national debt.

Bank bailout: What it means for taxpayers

September 25th 2008

UNITED STATES - Treasury officials and congressmen are scrambling to find a viable solution to what been dubbed the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, and are tossing around figures unimaginable to most “regular folks.”

The latest amount being discussed in Washington is $700 billion, which would come at the taxpayers’ expense.

If the three-page act is passed as is, what would this mean to the taxpayer? Dr. John Yeutter, associate professor of accounting and Certified Financial Planner, explained the situation in layman’s terms.

“Let’s put this in perspective,” said Yeutter. “The U.S. Federal Government collected $2,568 billion in fiscal year 2007, while spending $2,730 billion, generating a total budget deficit of $162 billion. This proposal asks for more than 25 percent of last year’s collections. This is more than the government spent on defense ($549 billion), Social Security ($581 billion), or Medicare and Medicaid ($561 billion) last year. So we’re talking about ‘real money’ here.”

Yeutter indicated this money will come by increasing the federal debt, and will have to be paid back somehow.

“So our children and our grandchildren will have to pay for the mistakes of a few executives on Wall Street, through future taxes,” he said. “So we shouldn’t expect anything but tax increases until this debt is paid.”

Indeed, a review of the text of the bill, available at the New York Times Web site, provides a stark – some might say frightening – plan that would leave U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in charge of running the whole show.

Particularly sobering is Section 8 of the three-page document, which states: “Decisions by the Secretary [of the Treasury] pursuant to the authority of this act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed in any court of law or any administrative agency.”

If passed, not only would the legislation increase the national debt to $11.3 trillion, it would leave one man in charge with absolutely no oversight.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress Wednesday they risk a recession if the plan is not approved immediately, as is.

Yeutter is concerned about the act and its potential long-term effects on other programs.

“We all hope that the government has the ability to stop what might be a crisis of similar proportions to that which brought on the 1929 depression,” he said. “The difficulty that exists here is that our lawmakers are being told, ‘Give us this blank check, or the economy will collapse,’ and the current proposal has little in it to provide protection for the citizen taxpayers who are funding it, or accountability from the secretary of the Treasury who will administer it. This also means the next administration, whoever that may be, will be left with less available funds to spend solving other economic or social problems, like health-care costs, health-insurance costs or education.”

The latest U.S. Census information indicates there are 116 million households in the U.S. – given that information, the cost per household for this proposal equals approximately $6,000.

What some may find even more disconcerting is there is no “Plan B,” should this plan fail.

According to Eamon Javers, writer for Politico magazine, if this week’s bailout plan fails, the government will probably have no choice but to continue to buy up assets, which could include credit-card debt, car-loan debt, as well as commercial real-estate debt, until the problem abates or taxpayers gain control over the banking system.

Bush's Legacy: Debt

September 25th 2008

UNITED STATES - The Bush legacy is going to include a nasty four-letter word: debt.

On second thought, make that staggering, long-term debt, perhaps in excess of $11 trillion, that will tie the hands of the next president and Congress, to say nothing of imposing a crushing burden on taxpayers.

Just a few months ago, the Iraq war looked like the biggest thing in the eight-year era of the second President Bush, during which his party controlled Congress for six years.

Just a couple of Sunday mornings ago, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post said on national television that the war in Iraq “is probably the most important thing going on right now,” adding that in January the war in Iraq will be topic one in the next administration, and topic two will be the war in Afghanistan.

Now the country suddenly is facing a financial crisis fraught with the possibility of unprecedented economic disaster.

If that isn’t enough to make you reach for the antacid tablets, the president still has about three months left in office, plenty of time for yet another calamitous turn of events.

The national debt was about $5.7 trillion when Bush took office in January 2001. Today, after almost eight years and a couple of wars, the debt has risen to about $9.7 trillion.

And, by the way, that figure might rise another $1 trillion or so before Bush steps down on Jan. 20.

The national debt ceiling today is $10.6 trillion. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wants Congress to raise that to $11.3 trillion to clear the decks for massive borrowing to deal with the nation’s financial crisis.

A national debt of $11.3 trillion would come to more than $37,000 each for every man, woman and child in the United States.

And all this comes during an era of allegedly conservative, fiscally responsible Republican domination in Washington.