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U.S. National Debt Clock – How Much Higher Will the Debt Go?

Have you ever viewed the live debt counter for the United States Debt? I am a man that loves numbers, and this has to be the most fabulous site that I’ve ever seen! The dynamic nature of these numbers is fascinating; unfortunately, most of these numbers are red, and ultimately display the debts of all of us individually as well as the debt of the United States nation.

U.S. Debt Load Per Person

As you can see, the national debt has now entered in the 14 trillions! If each taxpayer decided to chip in and pay off the national debt, it would cost each of us $126,642! Unbelievable huh?

U.S. National Debt Ceiling

As interesting as this is, I have become more interested in a closely related topic that has flooded the news – the National Debt Ceiling. Did you know that the government puts a limit on our own borrowing? It is currently set at 14.3 trillion dollars. According to my quick calculations, we’ll hit that ceiling in early 2012 (and that’s assuming the government won’t add any additional debt in their plans).

So, what happens when we hit the ceiling? It’s a simple answer – they’ll simply raise the ceiling. It’s happened time and time again, and is easily compared to an individual’s credit card debt.

Have you had a credit card that you continued to inch toward the maximum? The very moment you began to get worried, the credit company decided to raise your limit since you are such a great customer. You are honored that the credit company holds you in such high regards and you slowly inch passed the old maximum. Once you get close to your new ceiling, another letter comes in the mail and you find that your credit limit has once again been raised! This is exactly what the United States government is doing to themselves. They have great intentions to limit their debts, but as they inch toward the ceiling, they find that they have no choice but to raise it!

What is your take on this? Will the U.S. continue to spiral into further debt, or will one of these debt ceilings actually hold?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I want to think that this time the ceiling will go unchanged. But I am afraid that we will get more into debt. Wars require a lot of money.

    • I hope you’re right, but yes, war is expensive and is certainly not helping the debt issue.

  2. Personally I feel like our US debt is a cloud over our shoulders. I am concerned with how we are all going to pay for this…

    I am hoping that we start to pay it down. I was super excited when Obama had wanted to do so by the end of his four year term…but it seems like less and less of a reality.

    • I really wish the numbers would go down as well, but I think the only way to do that is with drastic measures….and I haven’t heard of anything like this coming out of our government recently.

    • I have read and read your post. My concern is equal to yours. I would like the debt to go down also. Okay…so how does this happen. Cut entitlements, social services, government employees, government waste. Good places to start if we are willing to accept the consequences for each. And make no mistake there will be consequences.

      Next, each of us accept our responsibility and pay it. Come on now. We benefitted now let’s kick out the coin. How about a flat tax of 1%? Everyone pays. Me, you, the guy who works in McDonalds, churches, synogogues, mosques, nonprofit organizations, corporations, everybody. Remember everybody benefitted from the economic boom. Everybody pays.

      Now, I am with our host and suspicious of the ability of the US government to properly dispense this 1% tax toward our debt. Chances are it would get diverted to defense spending, medicaid etc. So we hire a reputable accounting firm to store and distribute it to our creditors. I think if everyone took personal responsibility, put their own self interest aside for a short 5 years, and paid their 1% we could do away with that $14-15 trillion debt in no time.

  3. Personally I don’t like that clock because it’s depressing, and it feels like I have no control over the numbers. But wouldn’t it be cool if we all decided to actually pay off the debt? I think a start would be to vote people out who vote for more debt. (Would that mean voting pretty much everyone out?)

    • I think I have learned that “stimulating the economy” means, let’s take on more debt. At some point, we’ll have to vote for those that are ready to take all actions necessary to begin to pay it down. And, hopefully that happens very soon. The more we continue to raise our ceiling, the more difficult it will be to move in the other direction.

  4. Very interesting post Derek! Those are some staggering numbers!

    I think the Feds will do what credit card companies eventually do once they start increasing the limit – no preset spending limit! 🙂

    • Thanks MoneyCone! The numbers really are staggering! And yes, I think your right. I bet the debt ceiling is going out the window in the future. It apparently has no real value anyway.

  5. I agree with Jackie, looking at these debt numbers wracking up every second freaks me out and is depressing. If memory serves me correctly…didn’t the US borrow a lot of money from China and Japan? For some reason, letting another country have that much leverage over our expenses does not sit well with me either….what kind of interest are they making?

    • You are correct Dar! China holds a large portion of the debts that we owe to other countries. While I’m not sure of the interest percent on the loan, I’m sure it’s killing us. Hopefully our country will man up and take some action on this debt soon.

  6. The scary thing is that China only holds paper. That keeps them somewhat in line with US interests, but the option is always there to render the papers worth much less than they are today. The “arrangement” has been damaging to the US in some ways, and arguably more damaging for the little guy and small business, but how much can you really argue against exchanging IOUs for real goods? I’m not sure who holds the trump cards here.

    • It is definitely scary to have China holding those IOUs! I wonder how our politicians feel about it? It something that I don’t hear much about from D.C.

  7. I certainly hope that here in the U.S. we can in one form or another being making progress toward reducing this national debt. It’s staggering and seems to be something that as a nation we are sticking our heads in the sand like one big nation of Ostriches. Sure, many folks (including you and I, and others here, it seems) are troubled by it, but we’re not electing folks who take a stand against it! Also, clearly not good for us to have China in possession of these debts, given their current economic/technological ramping up. Here’s to change.

  8. The government will keep raising the debt ceiling. The politicians serves the corporations and are looking out for number one. Us little guys will have to figure out our own way to deal with the coming fallout.

    • I think you are right on retirebyforty! I think my wife and I will have to find a new place to live in 20 years or so. An economic collapse seems inevitable based on the lack of interest in the national debt.

  9. AT least Washington is “talking” about it; not sure what will actually be done about that astronomical debt.

  10. I am really concerned about the National debt and I don’t think America will ever get out of it. I hope that one day America will come back to the way it was founded. People came here to work not for Government handouts. Now people come for the handouts. What a shame.

    • I am right there with ya Edward! I’m hoping for a better America in the future as well. Hopefully I can use this forum to improve this world more and more each day! 🙂

    • So Ed, what’s your solution? What concrete steps do we need to take collectively and individually to stop the madness? If you were in charge, if you were the elected official, what would you do?


  11. So here we are with our debt ever mounting in July 2011. What disturbs me is that we forget that we all had a piece of the prosperity during the Bush era and we are, each & everyone, responsible for a piece of the $14 trillion plus we have on our hands. I think of the deficit as a giant national Visa bill and we are all owe. Making minimum payments ain’t gonna cut it folks!

    No new taxes, you say? Well, clearly all the concern over the debt left to future generations is merely rhetoric. Even if we don’t add so much as a $1 to the debt, at the rate we are currently taxing, it will take generations to pay it off. Okay….so we need to start cutting costs. How ’bout we start with your dear old dad’s medicare and work our way through his social security? Not enough? Okay, stop funding all after school programs. I am sure the Bloods and Crips would love to recruit younger, compliant members. Saw away at schools in general. Who needs to read and write anyway? On all that money the saved on taxes, the wealthy folk can send their kids to private schools and a subclass of worker ants will be available to live to serve the priviliged. And as a bonus, they will be so ignorant, they’ll have no idea that they should expect living wages, medical care or any of that other stuff that most people would like to have.

    Wake up, America! Pay now or pay later…we’re all gonna pay one way or the other.

    • The problem is, everyone depends on the government to solve everything, but they have their hands in too many things! I wouldn’t mind if the government cut back on some funding, and then let the people know that if they think it’s important, that they should donate to the cause. The government can’t solve all of our problems, we need to take it upon ourselves.

  12. I always wanted to go to a third world country, but thanks to Obama I don’t even need to move. 🙂

    • This made me laugh at first, but it really isn’t all Obama’s fault. I think we (the citizens) put to much pressure on the government to solve all of our problems. If we just took care of different projects by ourselves, the government would be in such a mess. Hopefully we have seen the light and we’ll start turning this ticking timebomb around…

    • It is interesting that you feel Obama created this when the recession started prior to him taking office.

      • I don’t think he created it, the American people did. I actually don’t think any one man can fix this recession. It has to be the willingness of the entire nation to live on the correct principles.

        • On this we quite agree. What do you consider to be the correct principles for the nation to live by? Thanks!

          • Financially speaking, I think we should live in a debt free economy. Sure, debt spiked the economy once upon a time, but it was ultimately heading for disaster, and we are only beginning to see the ramifications of that disaster.

  13. Market failure (the inability or unwillingness by private enterprise to meet demand for products or services) propagates reliance on government as well as ecourages the growth of the NGO/NPO sector. If a particular need fails to increase shareholders’wealth, private corporations justifiably abandon manufacturing that product or providing that service. Without government intervention, social justice would frequently be a matter of private opinion.

    • Pretty much, a reliance on a third party regulator is not the way to go… There are way to many people depending on the government to solve all of their problems. Why can’t they do something without the government’s help? Make a donation to your cause, make the community aware of the issue. Clearly, the model of, “let’s let the government take care of us” isn’t working…

  14. I think it grossly over simplifies the situation by suggesting that the social ills of the nation can be addressed by each of us donating a few bucks to our favorite charities. How many of us are eager to attend a gala whose proceeds are directed toward housing for newly released convited felons? How about rehabilitation for sex offenders? Care to contribute to conflict resolution classes for convicted elder abusers? Like it or not, most offenders are released back into the community after they do their time. Without government funding, these programs simply can not exist.

    Sure we all want to give to cancer research, blind children and maybe a few bucks for unwed mothers. Maybe the local animal charities or perhaps the library will garnish some concern and donations from individual citizens but there will always be less popular social needs that will require subsidy from tax payers. Again, pay now or pay later. Pay with your tax dollars or get rolled in the parking lot. Your choice.

    • I just know that the government can’t solve all of our problems, and if we count on them to do so, then we’re back to Communism….

  15. By all means let’s derail Communism. Certainly, no good capitalist (and I am a capitalist) wants that. So having extricated the federal and state government from the social concerns facing the nation, please share your plan to restructure the country to address the many pressing issues we face. How do we maintain equal rights for minorities if federal laws do not protect people who are different from the majority? As a landlord, can I refuse to rent to people with children if I don’t like children? How do we fund road construction/highway maintenance and law enforcement? If my house catches fire, do I write a check? What if I can’t afford to pay to put the house out? What if after insurance, I can pay but then having spent my insurance to pay for the fire departments services, I can’t afford to rebuild? Clearly, I will have to leave a burnt out shell for my neighbors to look at or to handle themselves. They will have to spend their resources to tear down my house. Of course, under the circumstances, I will need to pay rent elsewhere so there goes my house into foreclosure which has further consequences for the private banking industry holding the loan. Now what? Debtors’ prison perhaps?

    To insist that we not rely on the government and to expect Americans to behave like grownups, pay their own way and stand on their own two feet is quite reasonable. But to discount the important role of government in terms of enforcing fair play and services distribution without sharing a workable plan seems contrary to your stance on personal responsibility. It won’t happen by osmosis. What do you suggest?

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