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 USDebtClock.org. 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.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Trump floats idea of renegotiated federal debt
- Old personal debt, uncollectible and not taxable
- Poor tax collection contributed to Greece's debt woes