Excerpt from the Washington Examiner:
1.) $19.4 trillion
The federal government will be $19.4 trillion in debt by the end of the year, according to estimates from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Almost 73 percent of the debt is owed to “the public,” a vague term that includes any debt owed to people or institutions outside the federal government, including individuals, businesses and state, local or foreign governments. The rest is any debt or surpluses held by specific government accounts, such as the Social Security Trust Fund.
As of March, about $6.3 trillion of the federal debt was owed to foreign governments. About one-fifth of that, $1.3 trillion, is owed to China. Slightly less, $1.1 trillion, is owed to Japan.
Every other country is far behind, with Japan owing at least four times as much as the next largest lender, the Cayman Islands. Both China and Japan are owed slightly less now than they were a year ago, but the combined total of foreign-held debt has risen. From March 2015-March 2016, the amount of federal debt owed to foreign governments rose by $114 billion.
2.) $210 trillion
Using alternative accounting methods, at least two economists put the real level of federal debt at $210 trillion, almost 11 times higher than the $19.4 trillion estimated by the White House.
In a June 2015 working paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Laurence Kotlikoff and Adam Michel estimated the federal debt including how much debt the government is projected to take on in the future, rather than how much debt the government has right now.
“The U.S. government has a long-standing habit of understating the severity of its fiscal condition, because estimators weigh fiscal sustainability over limited time periods,” Kotlikoff and Michel wrote. “When measured properly — over an infinite time horizon — the difference between all projected future government spending and all projected future government revenue and resources over time is $210 trillion.”
The pair warned against kicking the can down the road and ignoring the federal debt problem. “Delaying the adjustment only increases the magnitude of the burden and shifts more of it onto future generations.”
The $19.4 trillion federal debt sounds large, but it’s hard to break down its impact to the individual level. According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. population at the end of 2016 should be 326.6 million. If you divide the $19.4 trillion federal debt by the population, everyone living in the U.S. owes $59,510.
Americans generally view the growing national debt as a problem, but not a day-to-day issue in their lives. According to Gallup, 5 percent of Americans say the federal budget deficit and debt are the most important problem facing the country. Although that portion is small, it’s actually tied for the fifth most-commonly cited problem.
Read more at The Washington Examiner.