How Big is the National Debt of the United States?

We hear about it all the time here in the U.S.  The national debt… it’s terrible…we’ve got to reel in this government spending, balance the budget and start making some forward progress on this thing.  For our grandchildren, and their grandchildren… Time for a change… Let’s try the Democrats… Ok, let’s try the Republicans.  New President.  Old President.  Keep trying.  I’m sure we’re gonna get this pesky debt paid off eventually, right?

Let’s do an experiment.  Forget all that for a minute.

I want you to imagine that you have an infinite amount of money.  That’s right.  No matter how much you spend, there’s always more waiting.  Like the universe expanding, it’s always going outwards.  A limitless amount of money at your disposal.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Who cares how much anything costs, right?  You have infinite money!  You literally have more money than you could ever spend or know what to do with.  After solving world hunger, providing the funds to cure various diseases, and paying off everyone to end all wars and bring complete peace in the world, you still have money, money, and more money… Okay.

You live a very elegant lifestyle with all that money.  As a matter of fact, you find a way to spend $1,000,000 a day.  That’s one MILLION dollars a day.  You wipe your a*$ with $1,000 bills.  Okay.  So, there’s 365 days in a year, so you’re spending $365,000,000 a year to get by.  It’s a rough life.

Now, at 365 million a year, you’re spending some pretty cash there to keep that lifestyle going.  But, sooner or later you are gonna die, right?  Everyone dies.  Let’s just say you don’t.  Let’s say you just keep on keeping on.  Like one of the vampires in Twilight.  The ticker, which you use your infinite money to purchase the best medical treatments as they advance, keeps you alive for another 2,000 years.  That’s right, 20 centuries from right now.  And all the way, you’re just devouring $1,000,000 a day.

At the end of the 2,000 years, you take a look at your finances.  You’ve now spent $730,000,000,000.  That’s 730 billion bucks.  Still short of the magical trillion mark by $270 more billion, which would still take you over 700 more years spending at your magical million-a-day rate.

Take a deep breath.  The national debt of the United States is now over 16 trillion.  That’s $16,000,000,000,000.   If you spent a million dollars a day, it would take you more than 41,000 years to have spent as much as the United States owes.

If that doesn’t demonstrate how much money we’re talking about, I don’t know what can.  Now, let’s turn back the clock and look at Bill Clinton’s work to balance the budget and create a national surplus for a few years in a row.

In 1998, the government ended with a budget surplus of $69.2 billion.

In 1999, it was $125.6 billion.

In 2000, it was $236.4 billion.

In 2001, it was $127.8 billion.

Let’s do the math.  In total, Clinton returned a surplus of $559 billion.  A noble effort, and certainly a step in the right direction.  Of course, we also have to analyze what happened to that money and where the surplus went.  However, let’s just assume for the sake of this experiment that every penny of the surplus went to pay off the national debt.  For those four years, the surplus totaled to $559 billion.  Assuming it was all applied to the national debt as it stands now, it represents approximately 26% of the national debt.  Of course, it took four years to amass that much.  So, if the rate of $559 billion in surplus could be achieved every four years from that point forward, it would still take 104 years to pay off the $16 trillion deficit.

America is bankrupt.