US debt hits record $19 trillion

A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington. © Jonathan Ernst
The United States federal debt has surpassed $19 trillion for the first time in history according to the Treasury Department. However, the real figure could exceed $65 trillion, according to a former US Comptroller General.

The official debt of $19 trillion represents almost $60,000 for every man, woman and child living in America today.

President Barack Obama took office with $10.8 trillion debt that has grown more than $8 trillion in seven years. And such a record tempo is likely to continue, according to the Congressional Budget Office, quoted by the Washington Times.

This equals an additional $70,000 in net federal borrowing for each of the 117,480,000 American households, according to Census Bureau estimates.

About $13.7 trillion makes up public debt, and the rest comes from government borrowing.

The US currently functions without a debt ceiling. Legislation in November suspended it through March 2017 so borrowing can continue without a limit until that time.

According to former Comptroller General of the United States [the director of the Government Accountability Office] David Walker, analysts understate the real extent of the US government’s financial commitments, which in reality exceed $65 trillion.

“You have to consider not just the public debt; you have to consider the debt we owe to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, as well as the huge unfunded obligations for our social insurance programs. When you add all those numbers up, the number is over $65 trillion, rather than the lower numbers a lot of the economists want to talk about,” Walker, who served as the US’ top accountant in 1998-2008, told RT.