The U.S. National Debt

Presented by: A. Raabe

America is in trouble - we all know that. Most people choose to ignore the situation, rather than facing it head-on to try and stop the problem before it gets even worse. Ignoring a problem rarely works to make it go away, and this particular problem will only get worse as time goes on. This problem is America's debt, and it's everyone's problem.

The debt has gotten way worse, way faster than in the past.

This picture shows just how exponentially the nation's debt has grown just in the past 35 years, and how the debt ceiling has grown with it, allowing the nation to get itself further into debt. This chart also illustrates the near-catastrophe at the beginning of 2014, when the Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling until it was almost to late.

The debt is worse than people realize.

Here's a short-term projection of where the national debt will end up if the government continues with it's current pattern of borrowing and spending money.

This is the debt clock in real time. The long red number in the first box is the national debt. At this time, the total debt is over $17.7 trillion. What people often fail to notice is that if you look four lines lower in the middle of the chart, there is the number for the U.S. total debt. This number includes homes, business, state governments, and the like. This number is also somewhere around $61.6 trillion.

Increasing taxes won't be enough

As Elmo clearly shows, even if every person in America paid their entire income to the government, the national debt still wouldn't be paid off. The per capita debt is nearly twice the annual per capita income, and it doesn't look like it's going to switch positions any time soon.

This article basically takes four ideas about taxes and the deficit, and sheds some light on them. To summarize, the Bush tax rate cuts are not solely responsible for the deficit. The top tax bracket is lower than it used to be, but federal revenue is about the same. The tax system in the U.S. is progressive, but it is supplemented by non-progressive means (like sales tax). Finally, raising taxes on the wealthy would only reduce 10% of the deficit.

So does the debt actually matter?

Basically what this article is saying is that yes, it does. Also, it explains that beyond just the number of the debt, the percent of the gross domestic product also matters. What percent of the debt makes up the GDP is one of the biggest indicators of how much trouble we're in. THe chart underneath illustrates how much of the GDP the debt has made up since the nation was founded, plus the projections for the next 20 years or so.

What does the future look like?

If the nation continues spending the way that it does, the Millennium Generation, Generation X, and all the future generations will be left with a hefty price tag to pay it off. Even now, the monthly per cavalue of the debt is astronomical, as Elmo has come back to show us.

Thanks to the rising government debt, prices all over will rise as well. If we don't get the debt under control soon, prices will continue to increase to compensate for the extra debt, until no one, not the public, not other countries, are willing to buy things from the United States.


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