By John Crudele
Congratulations, fellow taxpayers, the US is now more than $17 trillion in debt!
The number climbed by more than $300 billion on Thursday night the second President Obama signed into law the bipartisan government financing and debt ceiling increase legislation.
I told you this was going to happen – that the existing $16.7 trillion debt limit was history even before Congress passed the debt ceiling legislation. Washington, as I’ve told you many times, never let the limit get in the way of its spending.
The White House used “extraordinary measures” to get around the limit.
My research found that Washington had already overspent by $16.964 trillion and that our leaders got away with going over the limit by taking money from a slush account called the Exchange Stabilization Fund and various government pension funds. There was more than $200 billion in these unusual borrowings as of Thursday.
The US Treasury came clean on this Friday when it acknowledged the $300 billion-plus added debt on its website.
According to USDebtClock.org, the amount of debt adds up to $53,715 per US citizen. If you count only those of us who pay taxes, the amount per capita triples to $148,629.
Our nation’s debt has been on a tear even as the economy has been weak. In 2012 we owed “just” $16 trillion, which was up from $14.8 trillion in 2011, $13.6 trillion in 2010 and $11.9 trillion in 2009. The US surpassed the $10 trillion debt level for the first time in 2008 – the year the economy tanked.
Wow, it seems like only yesterday.
You can blame whoever and whatever you want for this incredible increase in indebtedness, but those are the numbers. Read them and, as they say, weep.
And keep weeping because the debt is likely to jump even more rapidly over the next few months. As you’ve probably heard, Congress will be attempting to come up with a budget between now and Dec. 31, something it hasn’t done for years.
When the battle over the debt began in earnest a few weeks ago, the goal was to raise the ceiling. Well, that isn’t what happened late Wednesday night when the two parties came to an agreement.
The debt limit was, in fact, eliminated. That’s right, it’s gone.
Between now and Feb. 7 the federal government can spend as much money as it likes. The sky is the limit.
I’ll put this in a more colorful way.
Let’s say there’s a bar full of drunken sailors. Someone says he’s going to cap the drinking – not after a certain level of drinking, but only at a certain time. Say 11 p.m.
With no set limit, the sailors are likely to drink as much as they want until closing time.
I hope I’m wrong, but without a debt limit Washington is going to spend and borrow as much as it possibly can before the bar closes on Feb. 7.