WASHINGTON (AP) _ The national debt has topped $16 trillion as chronic government deficits have piled more than $50,000 worth of debt onto federal ledgers for every man, woman and child in the United States.
Barack Obama's GOP rivals used the grim but expected news to blast the president for the government's dreadful fiscal performance over his 3 1/2 years in office. Obama has presided over four straight years of trillion dollar-plus deficits after inheriting a weak economy from his predecessor, George W. Bush.
The spiraling debt means that lawmakers and whomever wins the White House in November will have to pass legislation to raise the government's borrowing cap from the current ceiling of $16.4 trillion. Passing such legislation last year proved enormously difficult and the nation's credit rating suffered.
As the Clocks below tell us, the debt it still out of control. But to see when this started and why you might want to click the graph at the right and watch the YouTube debt video.
The danger is from the Great Recession that has cost America 10 million jobs. The debt frenzy is making that worse. Take a look (in the graph) at how the debt sky-rocketed during World War II.
That's how we ended the Great Depression. This time is tougher because Reagan and the Bushes ran the debt much higher in good times than it was at the start of WW II. But as Reagan understood, cutting government spending in a recession only makes it worse.
Yes, we must pay down the debt, as Clinton was doing, but not while 17 million are out of work.
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|Debt Or Savings||In the last
|Borrowed by the General Fund||– $ 16,006,821,518,282*||$ 597,581|
|Saved by Social Security Trust||+ $ 2,558,461,264,308||$ 52|
|Saved by all Gov. Trust Funds||+ $ 4,099,219,010,032||$ -185,564|
|Debt Owed to the Public||$ 11,907,602,508,249†||$ 783,146|
|*Gross National Debt ♦ †Debt Held by the Public ♦ Debt Clock Source Data|