Our Mountain Of Debt: Graphic By Todd R. Lindeman

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Our mountain of debt Graphic by Todd R. Lindeman • Introduction by Neil Irwin In the American political conversation, the national debt has become something almost mythical. The debt has become a metaphor for all that ails the United States, a scary monster under the bed. It isn’t. It’s an accounting concept. The debate over deficits and debt is frequently clouded with sloppy language and sloppy thinking. Here, as something of a primer, is an overview of how the nation is faring, as well as some basic concepts every American — and every member of Congress — should understand about the U.S. fiscal situation. The nation’s numbers, in the billions and trillions of dollars, start to get away from us quickly. But the challenge is not unlike any household’s juggle to manage its finances. Many Americans take on debt to secure a home or an education. When we take on more debt than we can handle, we’re faced with tough choices. And when we fall behind on payments, the costs can pile up quickly. So let’s look at it together: Below: Who owns the nation’s debt and what happens if we default? On G4: We also o er five truths (in a nod to our colleagues in Outlook, with their “five myths”) about the deficit and debt. In Outlook: How the debt-ceiling debate will shape American power and politics.…show more content…
Estimated foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities have more than tripled since 2001. Some worry about the geopolitical consequences of foreign governments investing so deeply in U.S. Treasurys. But the investments also tie the fortunes of foreign governments more closely to those of the United States. March 2001 $5.8 trillion DOMESTIC +100% increase FOREIGN +350%

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