Depending on who you ask, the U.S. debt is either about to break $13 trillion for the first time in our nation’s history or has already passed that benchmark.
According to USDebtClock.org, an independent site that has real-time debt figures, our national debt passed $13 trillion sometime yesterday and now stands at $13,019,627,000,000… give or take a few hundred million dollars. However, the Treasury Department’s official debt tracking Web site puts the figure a little lower, at just $12,995,779,490,444. Phew! For a minute I thought we were in trouble there.
Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of finger pointing in the coming days about who and what is responsible for the debt. Republicans will likely pin it on the Obama administration’s ambitious agenda, which includes billions in bailouts and stimulus money. Democrats, on the other hand, argue that most of this is a result of the previous administration’s decision to enter into two wars and create an expensive and unpaid for Medicare program. The truth is both parties share in the blame.
What’s clear is that the debt is rising too fast now. As we reported earlier this month, Obama’s budget director has argued that we are on an “unsustainable fiscal course” and may be at risk of a budget crisis. And according to ABC News, “As of six months ago, [the debt] stood at $12 trillion. The larger the debt grows, the faster the U.S. government's interest payments pile up, which helps explain why USDebtClock.org's national debt tracker jumps hundreds of thousands of dollars in less than a minute.”
Ultimately these numbers are so unfathomable that it almost seems like a joke, but as ABC News points out, there could be serious repercussions if the debt continues to balloon and reaches 150% of the gross domestic product, which could cause hyperinflation. (Right now, the debt is about 90% of the GDP.)