Archived Story

Do we really have $16 trillion federal debt?

Published 10:14am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To the Editor:

Recently our federal debt crossed the $16 trillion mark. That level of debt is so much money it is difficult to comprehend.

In 2000, our federal deficit was zero, and in the 1990s we had surpluses. Currently, we are adding over $100 million to our federal debt every day.

How did our federal government accumulate $16 trillion debt in 12 years?

Perhaps the best way to view this situation is to remove some zeros from the numbers and look at this problem as if we were a family. If we did so, our income would be about $24,000 annually, but we are spending almost $36,000 each year.

We charged another $12,000 to our credit card just this year. We now owe $160,000 on our credit card and are just paying the minimum payment each month.

If we approach the point where we have maxed out our enormous credit card limit, we simply call the bank and ask that our credit limit be raised. The bank is happy to do so because it knows that it will take us many years, if not decades, to pay off our debt.

In the meantime, 40 percent of our payments are going to interest alone.

If we use Congress’ philosophy and formula and agree that we need to cut our family expenses, then we will make a total reduction in spending of $33 per month.

Our current U.S. population is 314 million. Of that number, we consider almost 23 million or 16 percent are unemployed; 47 million are getting food stamps; baby boomers are retiring in droves and qualifying for Medicare and Social Security; factories are closing and moving overseas to more favorable business climates; and our military is stressed to the limit. Yet, only about half of our U.S. wage earners pay income taxes.

This situation has become a hot political issue but it is not. It is a critical American issue that must be dealt with in a bipartisan way.

Resolving these issues will be painful and take a great deal of courage, education and sacrifice. The question remains…. can our federal leaders do what must be done for us to survive this severe financial crisis?

Bob Holt
Sylva, N.C.
Formerly Franklin

  • Second Opinion

    by the way the current debt is way above $16 Trillion. What is not understood by the general public or reported by the media is the “OFF BOOK” debt owed which has total in the ballpark debt pass $25 Trillion. So hold on to your ER discount coupon for that double pass and fiscal heart attack.

    Suggest Removal

  • Second Opinion

    I think the writer misunderstands the difference between deficit and National debt.(employee2)

    This is correct. Deficit is the short fall of funding per year to the given budget set up for that year. Debt is the carryover of the balance of all creditized spending.

    very easy to understand because WE ALL do it. Your household sets yearly goals as to how much it plans on spending, BUT, things come along that require more funds than cash on hand so you borrow or you try to set the matter off if all possible until funding is available.

    But lets say the family decides to buy a house and a car or repair something that has a large cost. You use your line of credit (whatever it may be)to complete the task at hand.You have created debt Now at the end of the year you have not fully paid back the credit advances , you are still in debt. But let’s say you have a few years that your expenses are such that you have a surplus. You can use thhis surplus to pay down or off your standing debt. If you are now able to fully pay off the current debt , you are still in debt. In the case of your home purchase and car, you are in debt for many good years.

    it would be wise before one incurs the bill of a fiscal heart attack that they fully understand what deficit and debt truly mean.

    Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    I can think of far worse names than “clowns” but since this is a family-friendly forum — “clowns” will have to suffice! lol

    RE: “…these clowns in DC are NOT our “leaders!”
    This statement pretty much sums up the situation in D.C. relative to:
    A. Why the debt is $16 trillion and growing
    B. Why spending is out of control
    C. Why our system is irreparably broken
    D. Why there is no light at the end of the “political tunnel”

    Voters keep sending “clowns” to DC to fix problems which they quickly become a part of — once they get intoxicated with power — addicted to spending OUR TAX $$$ and spoiled/catered to by lobbyist/special interests!

    Voters put (D)(R) “clowns” on pedestals for spending/steering OUR tax $$s back home — sometimes wastefully! Multiply our local Congressman by 434 — then throw in 100 Senators whose # 1 job is “bringing home the bacon” to his/her District. There is a large whack of that $16 trillion debt — much wasted on boondoggles like the “Museum of Prairie Grasshoppers of Iowa!”

    But of course — the Congress tells the uninformed that various Presidents wracked up that entire $16 trillion in debt!

    The DEBT MONSTER will continue to grow enriching the Chinese until:
    A. Deficit spending is not an economic/political policy in D.C. Both (D)(R) “clowns” talk good games about cutting spending but until (D)(R) “clowns” get serious about a Balanced Budget Amendment — their talk is just feel good political posturing/blather/steer manure!
    B. The US recognizes that it CANNOT continue to be the world’s policeman. The (D)(R) “clowns” have to stand up to the warmongers in the Pentagon who NEEDLESSLY make CONFLICTS/ SITUATIONS worldwide “threats” our vital interests. The (D)(R) clowns cave in to this propaganda/foolishness/fear — borrow $$ from the Chinese to fund these adventures so they can put “strong on the national defense” in their campaign literature!
    C. Voters stop thinking that “clowns” with (Ds)(Rs) behind their names are going to save them. Many (D)(R) “clowns” put their party interests/self-interests/reelection/lining their pockets above the interests of the country/voters.

    Suggest Removal

    • handkusp45

      Makalani, I agree completely. Get up off the floor. I hope you didn’t hurt yourself! lol

      Suggest Removal

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    …. can our federal leaders do what must be done . . . .

    Right there is part of our problem: these clowns in DC are NOT our “leaders!” Please understand this. They are our employees, our (public) servants! They WORK FOR us! They are our representatives, every one of them! They are to be led by US, the soverign people (“We the People) of the USA. Until we understand that, and put them back in their place as our hirelings, we will never get our country back in one piece. Please help others see this fact.

    Suggest Removal

  • happycamper

    In Mr. Holt’s “family” analysis, the difference between what is earned ($24K) and what is spent ($36k) is the deficit for this year … $12k. That amount adds to what is already owed, and the total DEBT becomes $160k.

    Regardless of what the definitions are, it is clear to all who have dog in this fight (payers of income tax!) that our country will NOT survive if we continue to spend more than we take in each year. That deficit keeps our debt moving ever upward. It is also clear that “tweaks” to the tax code and marginal tax rates will do little to reverse this trend. Going back to tax rates of the Clinton era will NOT solve our spending issues. The problem is entitlements … INCLUDING MEDICARE! If the folks in Congress don’t have the guts to face the problem head on and cut spending in some BIG ways … ways which we will all feel … then we are doomed. Business will not pick up; hiring will stay at low levels; new businesses will not come into existance.

    Wake up, America! We cannot continue to live at the teat of mother USA and survive. SOMEBODY has to pay the bills, and the tax increases for folks making over $250k … or whatever … will NOT PAY THE BILLS!

    Suggest Removal

  • kingradman

    The deficit refers to defict spending, The debt is a whole different issue

    Suggest Removal

  • employee2

    I think the writer misunderstands the difference between deficit and National debt.

    Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks

classic