Does Obama Know What the National Debt Is?
He says he can’t recall what the number is.
Obama responded with a recent history of government spending. Then Letterman went back to the tally: “Now, do you remember what that number was? Was it $10 trillion?”
Then came the payoff, as the president made clear that he really didn’t want to utter the word “16”: “I don’t remember what the number was precisely.”
Of course he knows what the debt is (if he didn’t he should be impeached), he just doesn’t care and he doesn’t want you to care. And you may not care, but in case you do care, here is a quick primer.
First, the actual, physical debt, meaning the pieces of paper that we’ve issued that say, more or less, “IOU” or “we will pay you back” is roughly $16 trillion. This is known as bonded debt. At the current rate – the Obama rate – we are adding to this number an additional $1.2 trillion per year.
Second, is the number that lefty economists like to talk about is $10 trillion. This is the bonded debt held by outsiders, from little old ladies to the Chinese government. These are actual entities that are gonna want that money back and who we’ll need to pay, presumably. (For what it is worth, the missing $6 trillion is held by government entities, namely the Social Security Trust Fund. Lefties often ignore this under the logic that it is money that the government owes to itself, so it doesn’t count. However, they are wrong. Social Security holds that money in trust for SS recipients, who are actual people who expect to be paid that money. That $6 trillion is every bit as real, as in owing to actual, real people, as the $10 trillion held by outsiders.)
The third number that nobody talks about because 1) it is very hard to calculate, and 2) should scare the bejesus out of everybody is somewhere around $84 trillion give or take. This number represents the total amount of promises we’ve made to people, in everything from Medicare to pensions. A promise made does not immediately result in the government issuing bonded debt, it only issues debt when it needs cash. So the difference between the $16 trillion and the $84 trillion will have to get bonded someday, unless of course it can’t be bonded when no one will lend to us any more, in which case the promise is worth bupkis.
There you have it, now you know more than the President.