back to top

The 12 Craziest Facts About The U.S. National Debt

Everyone knows the United States is deep in the red. People talk about debt ceilings and debt limits--and government shutdowns seem to be all the rage--but what's actually going on here? Only GIFs can tell us.

Posted on

1. The First U.S. National Debt was Taken On by Everyone's Favorite Founding Father


That's right. Alexander Hamilton, today's founding father du jour, is responsible for the nation's first federal debt. He knew that having government treasury bonds freely trading on the market could lead to cheaper borrowing in the future. He thought that national debt, "if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing".

2. The Debt Hamilton Took on?: $19,608.81 / Via

Yes, that's all. He did say, "if not excessive", after all. This was probably equivalent to about $500,000 in today's dollars.

3. The Current National Debt? Try $19.7 TRILLION dollars / Via

Yes, that's trillion, with a TR. That means that, even accounting for inflation, the debt is now 39.4 MILLION times higher than it was when Monsieur Hamilton took out that first loan.

4. That's More than $61,000 Per U.S. Citizen / Via

That's just about the average salary of an accountant in the state of Vermont. If only there were more of those accountants around before this thing started getting out of control...

5. Our Government Could have Spent That on Hand-Churned Himalayan-Glacier-Water Ice Cream For All of Us! / Via

Instead of spending this $19.7 Trillion on whatever it is they spent it on, the U.S. Government could have treated each and every one of us to the world's most expensive ice cream sundae, which involves being flown to the summit of Kilimanjaro and having the ice cream hand churned for you. This is what we mean when we talk about priorities, people.

6. The Number 3 Holder of U.S. Debt is ... Ireland? / Via

Most people are not surprised to hear that China is the number one holder of U.S. debt (holding $1.21 trillion of it, to be exact). It is, after all, the second largest economy in the world. After China comes Japan ($1.15 trillion), another major world economy. But who would have thought that the number three holder of our debt (at $269 billion) is Ireland? Given 11% of Americans are of Irish descent, maybe they'll cut us a break?

7. The Federal Debt is Projected to be 23.21 Trillion by 2026

8. Hillary Clinton's Policies are Projected to Add a Further $200 Billion to the U.S. Debt in that Timeframe

9. On the Other Hand, Donald Trump's Policies are Projected to Add $5 TRILLION to the U.S. Debt / Via

Source. So, uh... Not better.

10. With That Said, We Wouldn't Know What to Do Without It


In the year 2000, the US was running a budget surplus. This led those within the Federal government to consider what would happen if the string of surpluses continued and the debt was eliminated. Their conclusion? It would be chaos. The entire world, including US federal agencies like the Social Security Administration, relies on US treasury bonds to store wealth. What would they do with that money if US treasury bonds suddenly ceased to exist? Put everything in the stock market? That would have taken a dour turn sometime around, say, 2008. As it turned out, thoughts of continuing surplus were short lived, thanks to this guy: / Via

That's because...

11. The Debt Tends to Increase under Republican Presidents

Despite the reputation they foster as the fiscally sensible party, the U.S. debt gets comparably larger when they are in office. It's enough to make you want to throw a shoe. / Via

With that said...

12. Not Everyone Agrees that the Current Debt Situation is a Gigantic Problem

The arguments against holding a federal debt are that interest rates and inflation will both be higher, which will in turn lead to the double-whammy of slower economic growth and higher taxes. So far, this has not turned out to be the case. The Fed has the ability to "artificially" lower interest rates, and they have done just that. Critics argue they cannot do so forever, but there are no cracks in the armor.

At least ...

Not Yet.

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!