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National debt passes $23 trillion for first time ever

The National Debt Clock is a billboard-sized running total display installed on the western side of One Bryant Park, west of Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets in Manhattan, New York City. On Oct. 31, 2019, its numbers topped $23 trillion for the first time.

The national debt is the total of all the money the U.S. government has borrowed and owes to its creditors, as well as the interest on that debt.

Going from the macro to micro level, it's analogous to the total you might owe on a mortgage, a car loan and credit cards. And the interest on those debts.

But let's hope your personal debt never gets anywhere near, even on a comparison level for illustrative purposes only, what Uncle Sam owes.

For the first time in U.S. financial history, the national debt has surpassed $23 trillion.

That astounding amount was reported in Treasury Department data released Nov. 1.

“Reaching $23 trillion in debt on Halloween is a scary milestone for our economy and the next generation, but Washington shows no fear," Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the fiscally conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation, told The Hill newspaper.

That milestone also is this week's By the Numbers figure.

Debt contributors: Part of the problem is the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes that, despite Republican promises, have not paid for themselves.

That shouldn't have been a surprise.

As the GOP was pushing its tax bill through Congress at the end of 2017, analyses by both the Joint Committee on Taxation and independent economic and public policy groups cast doubt on the economic viability of the plan.

The TCJA was just the latest contribution to the national debt.

Budget deficits have grown under the Trump Administration, with the debt growing around 16 percent since Donald J. Trump's inauguration. When he stood on the Capitol steps and was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017, the national debt was $19.9 trillion.

It passed $22 trillion for the first time 10 months ago.

Of the latest $23 trillion and growing figure, just less than $17 trillion is debt held by the public, which is the number typically used in calculating the United States' debt burden. The other $6 trillion comes from loans within government bodies.

You can get an idea of how quickly the country's debt is accumulating at As I typed early this afternoon, the rolling numbers showed the amount rapidly nearing $23,008,360,000, 000. It's well past that now.

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Dr. Donald D.A. Schaefer

Please consider adding my recently published article through the Campbell Law Review journal entitled, “The United States' National Debt and the Necessity to Prepare for its Default” to your web site. Here is the link: .

In many ways, the 2008 financial crisis seems like a distant memory one that many would just as soon forget. Another financial crisis is coming that will make the 2008 crisis pale in comparison. The future financial crisis lies in the massive national debt that has now passed the $22 trillion mark. The national debt continues to grow dramatically and, within the next few years, will surpass $25 trillion. Its growth is fueled by the inability of members of Congress and the Executive to address Social Security, Medicare, defense spending, and taxes. The resulting crisis may portend the collapse of the largely unregulated derivative markets that, by some estimates, are between $600 trillion and over $1 quadrillion. The future of the United States lies in the members of Congress and the Executive's ability to be prepared to default on its debt under domestic and international law so that, when this event happens, the crisis can be mitigated.

Best wishes,

Dr. Donald D.A. Schaefer

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