Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How can the public debt of $14.32 trillion now be over the statutory limit of $14.3 trillion??

There is more than a little confusion as to where we are relative to the debt limit that is widely under discussion. The U.S. Treasury does publish a debt number every day, called the Total Public Debt Outstanding which was at 14,320,468,555,091.68 ($14.32 trillion) yesterday. Yes, that does seem to be higher than the so-called debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion (actually, technically, the ceiling or statutory limit is $14.294 trillion), but... there is actually a separate number called the Public Debt Subject to Limit which was at $14.26837 trillion yesterday. Fine print, gobbledygook, and double talk to the rescue.
So, we are actually still $25.6 billion below the limit.
What is the difference between the debt outstanding and public debt subject to limit? According to the U.S. Treasury:
The Public Debt Outstanding represents the face amount or principal amount of marketable and non-marketable securities currently outstanding. The Public Debt Subject to Limit is the maximum amount of money the Government is allowed to borrow without receiving additional authority from Congress. Furthermore, the Public Debt Subject to Limit is the Public Debt Outstanding adjusted for Unamortized Discount on Treasury Bills and Zero Coupon Treasury Bonds, Miscellaneous debt (very old debt), Debt held by the Federal Financing Bank and Guaranteed Debt.
I still have every confidence that the White House and the Republicans in Congress will come to a deal in the next month or two on both raising the debt limit and an overall approach to gaining fiscal control over the federal budget, the deficit, and the debt.
-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Made my 16th payment to pay down the public debt of the U.S. government

I just made my 16th monthly payment to pay down the public debt of the U.S. government. It wasn't a large payment, just another $25, but it is a matter of principle, albeit mostly symbolic. It may take me another 48 billion years to pay it all down all by myself at this rate (and assuming the deficit went to zero immediately), but, as I said, it is a matter of principle and a sense of personal responsibility. It is our debt, not somebody else's.
According to the U.S. Treasury web site, the total public debt outstanding was $14,270,792,119,184.89, as of April 14, 2011, an increase of about $37 billion over 23 days, about $1.6 billion a day or $591 billion per year (annualized daily deficit.) As bad as that is, it is actually better than 7 of the past 10 months.
We will reach the statutory debt limit within a month or so, but I fully expect a deal before this becomes a problem.
Here is what I wrote back in January 2010 when I made my first donation/gift/contribution/payment:
Everybody is whining and complaining about the ballooning debt of the U.S. government, but who is actually doing anything about it? Well, for starters, ME! Yes, that's right, I, Jack Krupansky, just did something to reduce the U.S. government debt. Really. No kidding. I actually paid down a small slice of this debt. Granted, it was a rather small slice, but a slice nonetheless. Okay, sure, it was only $20, but the point is that at least I am one of the very few people willing to stand up and DO something about the problem, rather than be one of the whiners and complainers who refuse to acknowledge that it is their debt and their problem, not just the fault of mindless politicians in Washington, D.C. After all, every politician ultimately answers to voters and most of the so-called wasteful spending of the U.S. government is simply politicians responding to the demands of their constituents (voters.) Maybe my one small contribution to paying down the debt won't really make any difference to any of those whiners and complainers, but for me it is a matter of principle. I consciously choose action rather than the inaction and lack of responsibility of the whiners and complainers.
If you have any sense of principle, you too can pay down a slice of the U.S. government debt yourself at You can pay via credit card or debit transfer from a bank account.
So do the right thing and show all those whiners and complainers (including so-called "tax protesters") how mindless and spineless they really are. PAY DOWN THE DEBT! And that has to start at the grass roots with us individuals before politicians will ever pick up the lead.
For the record, the only real way out of the deficit is not to merely cut expenditures or raise taxes or some combination of the two, but through economic growth, which includes a healthy amount of immigration in addition to unemployed workers going back to work and young people entering the work force. Sure, we need to manage the federal budget more carefully as well and make difficult choices about the size of government and tax rates, but the big focus has to be on achieving sustainable economic growth. In truth, nobody, including all of the Nobel laureate economists, knows what that sustainable rate really is or how to get there. We'll stumble our way in that general direction. That's the way we do things in America.
Another note: A significant part of the deficit is businesses writing off losses from the financial crisis and recession as tax deductions. That may continue for awhile longer, but will gradually wind down and tax receipts from businesses will begin to pick up in the coming years.
-- Jack Krupansky