US Debt Clocks

What's causing today's huge deficits? Deficit basics. Top 4 deficit causes.

US-national-debt-GDP More about this graph

Who Did It, and Why?

As the clocks below tell us, the debt it still out of control. But to see when and why this started, you might want to click the graph at the right and watch the YouTube debt video. Or get this graph and much more on zFacts' [#New App] (with no ads).

We Are in Danger! ... but Not from the Debt

The danger is from the Great Recession that has cost America 10 million jobs. The debt frenzy is making that worse. Take a look (in the graph) at how the debt skyrocketed during World War II. That's how we [#ended 12 years of Great Depression]. This time it's tougher because Reagan and the Bushes ran the debt much higher in good times than it was at the start of WW II. But as Reagan understood, cutting government spending in a recession only makes it worse. Yes, we must pay down the debt, as Clinton was doing, but not while 17 million are out of work. ... more

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[#Debt or Savings]
In the last
# [#secs].
Borrowed by the [#General Fund] – $ #* $ #
Saved in Social Security Trust + $ error $ error
Saved by other Gov. Trust Funds + $ # $ error

Debt [#Owed to the Public] $ error $ error
*Gross National Debt  ♦  †Debt Held by the Public  ♦  Debt Clock Source Data



Some Debt Facts:

  • Social Security is $2.7 trillion in the black (Nov 2012). In 2010 it ran a $90 billion surplus.
  • Clinton reduced the debt as a percent of GDP.
  • G. W. Bush restarted the deficits with tax cuts tilted toward the rich, and then continued with Medicare D, two wars and more.
  • Red ink hit a peak rate of $1.1 trillion in 100 days just before Obama was elected.
  • Obama's stimulus was only $0.8 trillion. 
  • Only $1.2 trillion is owed to China (11/2012).[#1]
  • For more facts, get the VoteFacts! App.

How Do the General Fund and the Trust Funds Get their Money?

The General Fund: All personal and corporate income tax.
Social Security Trust Fund: Payroll taxes on wages up to $113,700  (as of 1/2013).
Medicare:  Payroll taxes on all wages.

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[#HoverNotes]

[=ended 12 years of Great Depression]No it was not the devastation of Europe that helped. This is a crazy story made up by Republicans. But (1) We pulled out as we started building the Pentagon, which was before Pearl Harbor, and before the devastation of Europe. (2) It was GM building military trucks and tanks, etc. that did it. Take a look.
[=General Fund] What is the General Fund?
It's the main federal government fund, and its big expense is the military. Then there are the trust funds (Highway, Social Security, etc.). On average the trust funds have extra money that they are loaning to the General Fund, so a lof of the debt is owed to the trust funds.
[=New App]

Get this graph with the voteFacts App

Click here: VoteFacts! to see it on your computer or mobile device. Fourteen graphs, simple explanations. Plus the most accurate election prediction anywhere, updated daily ... and more. Works on anything with a browser.
[=Debt or Savings] What Is "Total Debt or Savings"?
The national debt (total accumulated debt) is the sum of all the annual deficits less any surpluses. The "deficit" is one-year's shortfall. This shortfall must be made up by borrowing.
But the Social Security Trust Fund and other government trust funds are not in debt. They have trillions in savings and the General Fund (which has the total debt, borrows from them).
[=secs] What determines the speed of the clock?
Some days the debt actually goes down, and others it goes up extra fast. No one knows what it will do on any given day, so we just show it increasing at its average rate, because that's the best guess.
[=Owed to the Public] AKA Debt Held by the Public is the amount of Treasury Bills and Bonds that have been bought by American citizens and companies and by foreigners. The rest of the debt is owed by the General Fund to other government Trust Funds that have run a surplus. Note that since America mainly borrows from Americans, the debt is mostly owed to Americans.
[=1] From CNN July, 2011.
[=HoverNotes] Just hover over green-underline links above to see the "hover" notes.

Mt Tam

Why we should price carbon. The solving the climate problem requires cooperation, and caps just cause bickering. A common global price is the only way change self interests and gain cooperation.

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National Debt
National Debt

Debt Data

Whose National-Debt Numbers?
The data plotted here were taken directly from the White House web site and plotted without modification. For details, see ([#Source]).

The gross national debt is reported (almost) daily by the U.S. Treasury at Debt to the Penny xlnk.gif Our clock is updated every weekday (see below) which makes it the most accurate on the web.*

What determines the speed of the clock?
Some days the debt actually goes down, and others it goes up extra fast. Since no one knows what it will do on any given day we just show it increasing at its average rate, because that's the best guess. But what average rate?

The Office of Management and Budget at the White House predicts the "Gross Federal Debt" for the next few years. At the end of the fiscal year 2005, (Sept. 30 2005) they list the debt at $8,031.4 billion. They predict it will be $676 billion higher at the end of the next fiscal year. That is the average rate of increase per year assumed by the clock.

For daily Debt Held by the Public xlnk.gif
For monthly Social Security Trust xlnk.gif
Fed. Use: Securities Held Outright xlnk.gif

 


Popnotes used above:

[=Source]What Is the Source of the Date in the Historic Graph?

The data is from the historical tables in the 2006 OMB Budget as downloaded from WhiteHouse.gov Historical Tables (Bush WH no longer available). The data are plotted without modification. Here is the relevant two page Table 7.1 in PDF format.

The data and graph are available in this Excel spreadsheet.