National Debt Crosses $15 Trillion Mark

By: Brian Montopoli, CBS News
By: Brian Montopoli, CBS News

The United States' debt on Wednesday exceeded $15 trillion, according to the Treasury Department's "Debt to the Penny" website.

The total public debt outstanding was listed at $15,033,607,255,920.32 on Wednesday afternoon, with two thirds of that debt held by the public and one third made up of intergovernmental holdings.

(The U.S. Debt Clock website also shows the national debt above $15 trillion, though that site is only an estimate based on actual amounts from 2010 and projected totals from 2011. As CBS News' Mark Knoller points out, the debt doesn't actually continuously rise, as the Debt Clock site suggests; it is based on daily revenues and expenses by the government, and the official number sometimes declines.)

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said in response to the news that President Obama's "disastrous economic policies are not only an economic travesty, they are immoral."

"We cannot leave our children and grandchildren with this enormous burden," he said in a statement. "We must take responsibility for our actions."

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, emailed reporters asking "how much is $15 trillion?" It included claims like "15 Trillion One-Dollar Bills Would Wrap Around The Earth's Equator Over 58,000 Times" and "It Would Take The Average Household Over 300 Million Years To Pay Off The National Debt On Their Own."

On January 20, 2009 - the day Mr. Obama took office - the national debt was $10.63 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. That means the debt has increased approximately $4.37 trillion on his watch.

After a contentious debate, Congress passed a bill to raise the then-$14.294 trillion debt limit on early August, and the bill was signed by the president. That deal established the bipartisan supercommittee charged with agreeing on at least $1.2 trillion in savings over ten years by Thanksgiving; failure to do so is supposed to trigger automatic domestic and defense spending cuts, though members of Congress have signaled they may act to halt automatic cuts.

The debt topped $14 trillion at the beginning of this year. The debt hit $11 trillion on 3/16/09; $12 trillion on 11/16/09; $13 trillion on 6/1/10; and $14T on 12/31/11.

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  • by Anonymous on Nov 18, 2011 at 02:44 PM
    15 Trillion dollars in debt, 25 million people out of work over 1 million foreclosures this year, etc...No amount of political contributions and market strategy can overcome the mess BHO has made. 2012 anybody but Obama. Game over.
  • by tom Location: madison on Nov 17, 2011 at 01:40 PM
    A community organizer without any experience running the free can anyone not be surprised!
  • by 1stlttightwad Location: Quitman on Nov 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM
    Hey Libs and Dems....even you realize we can't afford 4 more years of Obama...whatcha gonna do? Obama can't run on his job creation. He can't run on his foreign policies. He can't run on his energy policy. He can't run on his environmental policy. He can't run on his leadership. He can't run on bringing America together. But WOW...he sure can read a good speech. Bottom line folks..we can't afford him or his efforts to divided american..You know the have's ( those who work) and the have nots( the ones that live off the workers) Which group are you in???? If you work you cannot vote for him..He wants to share your doesn't he.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 17, 2011 at 08:54 AM
    this is what happens when you have no budget. Where is the budgets at?? the house has sent 22 budget bills to the senate since obama has took office and harry reid will not allow any of them to be voted on. As long as we just keep passing stop gap spending measures there is no way it will ever get better. I say shut down the goverment until there is a budget passed.
  • by God Bless America Location: Tally on Nov 17, 2011 at 06:14 AM
    Good show Obama..when are you going to step down?
  • by Gerry Location: Tallahassee on Nov 17, 2011 at 05:30 AM
    The total public debt increased 37% under Clinton in 8 yrs and 86% under Bush in 8 yrs. It has increased 42% in less than 34 months under Obama. Why the increases in this century? That's easy: the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war. These have a cumulative effect. Plus there was a recession and 7.6% unemployment when Obama took office. The housing bubble didn't burst until 2006 or 2007. The subprime mortgage business collapsed in 2007. The too big to exist banks didn't need to be bailed out until 2008.
  • by Gerry Location: Tallahassee on Nov 17, 2011 at 05:15 AM
    The yield rates on US Treasury instruments are 2.00% on 10 year notes and 3.03% on 30 year bonds. These are secondary market rates. If you don't know how to find these rates, you have no business talking about the US's national debt. In the second paragraph, where it says "intergovernmental," it should be "intragovernmental." Germany borrows for 10 years at 1.79%.
  • by Got ready in 2008... Location: tally on Nov 17, 2011 at 05:01 AM
    When will we see the LEFT and their tools (PM's) rejoicing in the street over this? I imagine they will ignorantly defend the monumental bankrupting of the country in some form or another. But anyway, the over spending will hurt them more than it will hurt others, karma...nothing but karma. Enjoy.
  • by Bubba Location: over here on Nov 17, 2011 at 03:47 AM
    He has accomplished his goal!He has destroyed America!We will never come out of this hole he has dug!Where is all the money he used to bail these company's out with!Most of them failed!Where is the money that was earmarked for roads and bridges the first time?What happened to that trillion?He and his woman have sure enjoyed lavish vacations on planes and new busses while the rest of us are struggling to survive!He can kiss my buttocks!!!!
  • by Sheep on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:46 PM
    It's all the Tea Part's fault!
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