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  • The Cost of Our National Debt in Pictures


    Late this December, the Unites States Treasury will reach the $12.1 trillion statutory ceiling on the national debt. It will mark the 91st time Congress has had to raise the debt limit since the original $43 billion ceiling was established in 1940.

    Many on the left argue that the United States federal government can borrow and spend as much money as it wants, and that any concerns about what it might cost us in the future are just a Phantom Menace. But as the chart to the right shows, we are already paying a hefty sum in monthly interest payments that are equal in size to what we spend in an entire year on other government priorities.

    And the situation is only going to get worse under President Barack Obama’s budget. Heritage Foundation fellow Brian Riedl reports:

    Federal spending (which has remained around 20 percent of economy since the 1950s) would surpass 28 percent of economy by 2019. Federal spending per household would rise from $25,000 per household in 2008 to more than $37,000 per household by 2019.

    This spending would drive a permanent, unprecedented increase in the national debt. After borrowing just under $6 trillion from 1789 through 2008 (plus nearly $2 trillion in 2009), Washington would borrow $13 trillion over the next decade–nearly $100,000 for every household. By 2019, annual budget deficits would approach $2 trillion and push the public debt to nearly 100 percent of the economy. Merely paying the interest on this debt would soon cost taxpayers $1 trillion annually, and spending and deficits would continue to rise.


    For more charts see Heritage’s National Debt Charts Facebook photo album.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to The Cost of Our National Debt in Pictures

    1. RF, North Carolina says:

      If we allow it, it will continue and only get worse!

    2. Pingback: $17.9 Billion: The Monthly Interest For Our National Debt « The Divine Lamp

    3. Stirling, Huntingdon says:

      The only way the government can rationally deal with what's comming is to argue for the case of hyper-inflation which would make the overall debt worth less(in the long run), but would also make everyone's assets worth next to nothing. I really feel like a passenger in a car with a "drunk driver" behind the wheel when it comes to this administration and congress. I'm telling them to let me out of the car, but they aren't listening. I know what is going to happen next but I'm being draged off the cliff with the drunk.

    4. Roger S., Ma. says:

      91 "raises" in 70 years do tell a story, don't they?!

    5. WHICH WAY says:


    6. Kelly, Denver CO says:

      Cody_K is exactly right! When are voters registered as Republicans going to finally get that their politicians are no better than the Democrats? At least the Democrats are outright socialists and we know where they stand. The Republicans hide behind their veil of fascism and pretend they protect our rights.

      Educate yourself about individual rights, what they are and why we have them. Then either run for office or elect people to office who understand what you've read.

      First, I would recommend this essay… http://fare.tunes.org/liberty/library/taifc.html …so you will understand the importance of educating yourself and not relying on government education. You can't just believe what politicians tell you, even if they're in "your" party.

      Then, here's a link to an essay about man's rights… http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=a

      We've got to fight for and protect our own rights. No one in D.C. is doing it.

    7. JBF Arlington VA says:

      The analogy given by Stirling,above, is the best summary I've seen. We're all in 'BUS' driven by a drunk heading for a cliff and our seat belt releases have malfunctioned – jammed by our US Senators – we are doomed to go off the cliff as our Senators cheer as if it were just a roller coaster ride. What idiot Senators we have. In 1964 there was a book entitled, "None Dare Call It Treason." But it is!

    8. MB, Baton Rouge, LA says:

      Reading Robert Ludlum’s “The Ambler Warning” I found the following paragraph relevant to what is currently happening in the USA and worth reflecting upon:

      “But as an American, I don’t want to be made a slave. And slavery, in the twenty-first century, is something imposed not by manacles of steel but by economic and political disadvantages that no lock can ever open. The twentieth century was a time of American freedom. Through inaction, you would seem to prefer a new century of American servitude. You can sermonize about the unknowns. I’ll grant the unknowns. But that doesn’t justify passivity in the face of aggression. Why be overtaken by events when you could help shape those events?” “…the course of history is too important a thing to be left to chance.”

      I think Americans should peruse this paragraph and reflect on how they could help America from falling into slavery to the national debt. Re-elect no one in Congress.

    9. John Roane Sarasota says:

      If you need an education ask: Who gets all the profits generated by The Federal Reserve?

      What amount of tax is paid on all those profits of the Federal Reserve?

      Ding dong ding dong.

    10. Tim Az says:

      Is there anyone left now that can't see that liberals intend to collaspe the free market sytem?

      They're going to make good little socialists out of those remaining.

      More hoax and less change anyone?

    11. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      My question is, what have they been doing with all the money?

      Who is in charge of the Money?

      How could thoese educated people in Washington be so stupid!

      Vote as many out as we can in 2010! They are crooks, who should be in prison.

    12. Jill, California says:

      Anyone who couldn't see this coming wasn't paying attention to the way Obama spent money during the campaign.

      I'm no genius when it comes to math or money. But even I had brains enough to realize that his reckless, excessive spending during the campaign was a crystal ball to our future.

    13. Alan, Tennessee says:

      We need a balanced budget ammendment and a complete revision of the tax code to a national flat tax.

      Also how about term limits for everyone and a national referemdum vote on major issues like health care and wanton irresponsible spending packages.

    14. Ben C, Ann Arbor says:

      I have written my Senators and Represenative from Michigan stating that they are writing checks my daughter will not be able to cover in her adult life and for this I hold them in contempt. Their legacy will be a decline in our childrens standard of living but then they could care less given they won't be around. Accountability in absent in Congress and White House. Its always "they," never "I" when consquences arise from actions. I am really getting tired of this behaviour.

    15. philip says:

      spend spend spend greed greed they don't care it's not their money they don't have it's your childern and grand children they keep spending into proverity wake up tax tax tax will be your pay check and any thing you own and everything will be owned by the goverment.

    16. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      Will we keep sitting on our hands and let the dems keep spending our money as if it is water, or will be be people that care about this country and demand that this BS stops now.

    17. Brad S,, Detroit, MI says:

      Cody_K keeps thumping the "Blame Bush" drum. I don't think anyone here believes that W is still in charge anymore. He failed because he let a Democratic controlled House and Senate walk all over him and increase spending like a drunken sailor – and W was a co-conspirator in this outlandish spending spree. What I think the "Hope & Change" crowd wanted was a transparent government interested in stopping the ways of the past. Correct ? No more pork-barrel projects, bi-partisan solutions, and only keeping programs that work. Well, how is that Hope and Change working for you now ? The Stimuseless didn't work (it wasn't supposed to). Entitlement spending has accelerated (keep subsidizing poverty and failure and you get more of both). Calling the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as NOT a tax increase (that would be laughable if it wasn't painfully true and will cost the average tax-payer earning $50K per year about $250 more per month). This government is not interested in your freedom. It is interested in true Socialism. But don't be alarmed. Socialism isn't about re-distribution of wealth. It is about CONTROLLING it. Please give me just ONE shred of evidence that they are not trying to get more of your disposable income. Just one.

    18. Thomas Showalter, Tr says:

      We are following in the footsteps of Japan, which underwent 8 stimulus packages, with virtually no real "stimulus" to their economy. What was stimulated as their national debt, which is now 520% of their GDP.

      Japan is extremely vulnerable. Modest changes in today's historically low interest rates will overwhelm their treasury, requiring Japan to spend almost the entirety of its federal tax revenues on interest on their national debt. That means that almost all federally sponsored services in Japan, must be deficity funded.

      We may become just like them, only on a grander scale. I see no mindset on the part of either party to stand in the way of this skyrocketing spending, from which there will be no long term benefit.


    19. Dallasman, Columbus says:

      Very soon it will be time to vote again. If you are concerned about the government spending then you need to elect Republicans for our congress. Otherwise our country may implode under the high interest rates coming down the line. It might be to late but a mixed congress will make a difference and spending would surley slow down. If we don't have a war tax the U.S. will sink faster. We can not continue to borrow because we are over the limit and we barely make the payments now.

    20. libertybel, Rye, NY says:

      There are those who believe Obama wants to turn America into a socialist state. As a tactic, this is true, but those who note it do not see far enough. Obama wants to use the tactic of socialism to effect his final strategy, to wit, the destruction of America. The dramatic overspending, the divisive tax-the-rich class warfare, the economy-crippling cap-and-trade, the socialist appetite for nationalizing the means of production and distribution are all simply the means to that end.

      Understand that we are being betrayed on a scale never before seen in history. All the while many of your friends and neighbors still worship the ground he walks on.

      Perhaps indeed our time has come. And gone.

    21. jim, wi says:

      Thats not fair bush bailout to banks is being paid back, they've already said $30 billion loss minimum on GM.

    22. carl, st louis says:

      Kelly in Denver may want to look up the defenition of facism as she applies it to political parties and see that one can be a socialist AND a facist. Greed for money, position and power are what motivates "our congress" and it will continue until the American voters wise up. We hold the ultimate power in this country but most are too lazy or ideologically disinclined to educate themselves as to what is going on. Don't take my word for it. Just ask those around you; family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, students, teachers or anyone else and find out for yourself.

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