Prague Twin

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Public Debt

As I've mentioned before, I find that tracking the increase in the public debt to be a far more accurate measure of deficit spending. Things like the Iraq war are not counted in the deficit because these are emergency measures. So what I like to do is track what the government actually owes.

Since president Bush has taken office, the public debt has been increasing at a rate of about $.5 trillion annually. This fiscal year (which ended at the end of September) it was almost exactly that. Here are the numbers going back to 97 for a little perspective. Each figure is the amount of public debt on the last day of the fiscal year.

(1997) Total Debt: $5,413B
(1998) Total Debt: $5,526B (UP $113B)
(1999) Total Debt: $5,656B (UP $130B)
(2000) Total Debt: $5,674B (UP $18B) Clinton's final fiscal year
(2001) Total Debt: $5,807B (UP $133B) Half Clinton, half Bush
(2002) Total Debt: $6,228B (UP $421B) Bush's first fiscal year
(2003) Total Debt: $6,783B (UP $555B)
(2004) Total Debt: $7,379B (UP $597B)
(2005) Total Debt: $7,932B (UP $553B)
(2006) Total Debt: $8,506B (UP $574B)
(2007) Total Debt: $9,007B (UP $501B)

So for all the talk about cutting the deficit in half, you don't really see much of a result. And, I don't know if it is intentional, but they have done something funny with the accounting so that the debt is artificially lower on the last fiscal day of the year. Last year it meant that the debt went up by about $50 Billion within a couple of days. This year, the debt has shot up by $150 Billion in the two days since the end of the fiscal year. When you take that into consideration (i.e. if we look at the total public debt on the second day of the fiscal year of 2006 and 2007 and compare those numbers) we see the debt increasing by over $600 Billion in one year.

The total public debt on October 2nd, 2007 was $9,151,786,966,610.65

How is that for fiscal responsibility?



  • I find dealing in trillions like playing with Monopoly money. What I can't get my head around is where is all this money supposed to come from? Even with all the taxes collected every year, I just don't see how we can hope to cover those kinds of expenses.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:41 AM  

  • With the interest, it is pretty well out of control now, as far as I can tell.

    Even under Clinton when there was a budget surplus, the public debt was still on the rise (albeit only by $18 billion the last year).

    The problem isn't really in paying it back since almost all governments operate with debt. The problem could become generating the funds to keep adding to it.

    We will be approaching the legal limit set by congress soon, so you will be hearing about the debt again soon.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:11 AM  

  • I have this mental block when it comes to math and numbers so I'm absolutely hopeless when it comes to any bigger transaction than balancing my checkbook. And even that I find daunting,but I do like to at least TRY to understand some of the inner workings.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:50 PM  

  • The overspending of the Republican controlled Congress was nothing short of scandalous. On the other hand, almost all big business enterprises have a much bigger comparative debt, compared to our GDP (or whatever the initials are now) and they never pay it off and they very rarely go under. It's not fiscally responsible, but it's not the end of civilization as we know it, either.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 7:10 PM  

  • Still, Roger, as a taxpayer I'd rather hear the government is trying to decrease the deficit rather than increasing it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 PM  

  • Roger,

    Yes, the rubber stamp Congress' approval of the White House budget was nothing less than scandalous, especially from the party of fiscal responsibility.

    The debt is $9T. Real GNP is about $13T. So the debt is about 67% of GNP. But is that really a good measure?

    I would argue it isn't.

    Government revenue in 2006 was $2.409T. So the debt is actually over 3.5 times yearly revenue.

    Is that normal for big corporations? Honestly, I don't know. Maybe No_Slappz will come along and enlighten us.

    We can hope anyway.

    At any rate, if you look at it as a business, the government is posting a loss of 20% of it's revenues per year. I don't know of many businesses that stay in business very long like that.

    But then again, it isn't a business, so actually your analogy is worthless.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:41 PM  

  • quite insane stats and no real plan to rememdy it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 PM  

  • I guess the plan is to shrink the debt with inflation. Sounds a bit risky with the boomers about to start taking the government teat.

    And I'd argue the government is just a form of big business. It certainly has the revenue and expenditure part.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 1:18 AM  

  • Watch your e-mail, I'm sending you my National Debt file. You might find it interesting.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 11:29 AM  

  • Maybe you've heard this: One Billion dollars in $1 bills will circle the globe over four times if laid end to end.
    Thats over 100,000 miles or almost half way to the Moon!
    If you were to pick them up at a rate of 1 per second starting at birth you'd never finish in your lifetime.

    So we are talking about 9 thousand times more than that when you mention the debt.

    Scary isn't it?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:07 AM  

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