of the latest reporting by the Treasury Department, the US gross
national debt rose by $41.5 billion on Thursday, February 22, to a
grand total of $20.8 trillion.
the thing: On September 7, 2017, five-and-a-half months ago, just
before Congress suspended the debt ceiling, the gross national debt
stood at $19.8 trillion.
that time, I was holding my breath waiting for the gross national
debt to take a huge leap in a single day – as it always does after
the debt ceiling gets lifted or suspended – and jump to the next
ignominious level. It sure did the next day, when it jumped
it continued. Over a period of 8 weeks, the gross national debt
jumped by $640 billion. Four weeks after that, it had ballooned
by $723 billion,
at which point Fed Chair Yellen – whose cheap-money policies had
enabled Congress to do this for years – said that she was “very
worried about the sustainability of the US debt trajectory.”
Congress served up another debt ceiling – a regular charade
lawmakers undertake to extort deals from each other, beat the White
House into submission, and keep the rest of the world their on their
toes. It goes like this: First they pass the spending bills,
directing the Administration to spend specific amounts of money on a
gazillion specific things spread around specific districts. Then
they block the means to pay the credit card bill.
debt ceiling was suspended on February 8, at which point the gross
national debt began to surge again, adding $1 trillion ($960.4
billion rounded to the nearest 100 million), a 5% jump in the gross
national debt in just 5.5 months:
the chart, note the somewhat technical jargon (marked in green) of
what will happen going forward. The past week saw record issuance of
Treasury debt, and that surge of Treasury debt issuance will
continue. The Treasury department now expects that the debt
by $617 billion by mid-year.
debt ceiling is like playing toss with a loaded gun: The gun will
normallynot go off because almost everyone is trying very hard to
catch the gun without pulling the trigger. And historically
speaking, it hasn’t gone off yet, and everyone hopes that it will
never go off. It’s dramatic, and sound bites from those playing
toss permeate the media, but what it really does is distract from
the consequences of the fiscal policies that these same people are
hammering out in Congress. Those consequences are best summed up
over time in the gross national debt.
trillions fly by so fast these days, we can’t even see them
anymore. And afterwards we wonder: What was that? Where did it go?
Treasury Department, in its Financial Report for fiscal 2017, which
it just released, and which was silenced to death by the media,
shows where that money came from and where it went. Now, just add
the tax cuts and the ballooning expenditures.