+107%: Federal Debt Held by Public Has More Than Doubled Under Obama; Up $57,431.65 Per Household

Terence P. Jeffrey | October 15, 2015 | 1:10pm EDT
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(CNSNews.com) - The portion of the federal government’s debt that is held by the public—as opposed to the portion that is borrowed out of government trust funds such as the Social Security and Medicare trust funds—has more than doubled during President Barack Obama’s time in office, according to official data published by the U.S. Treasury.

Since Obama’s inauguration, the Treasury has increased the federal government’s debt held by the public by $6,739,201,661,284.21—or about $57,431.65 for each household in the United States.

When Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08. But the Treasury divides this total debt into two main components: debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt.


"Debt held by the public represents federal debt issued by Treasury and held by investors outside of the federal government, including individuals, corporations, state or local governments, the Federal Reserve, and foreign governments,”  explains the Government Accountability Office. “The majority of debt held by the public consists of marketable Treasury securities, such as bills, notes, bonds, floating rate notes, and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities that are sold through auctions and can be resold by whoever owns them. Treasury also issues a smaller amount of nonmarketable securities, such as savings securities and State and Local Government Series securities."

"Intragovernmental debt holdings represent federal debt owed by Treasury to federal government accounts—primarily federal trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare—that typically have an obligation to invest in federal securities their excess annual receipts (including interest earnings) over disbursements,” says GAO.

“Unlike debt held by the public,” says GAO, “intragovernmental debt holdings are not shown as balances on the federal government’s consolidated financial statements because they represent loans from one part of the federal government to another."

Of the $10,626,877,048,913.08 in total debt that the federal government had when Obama took office in 2009, $6,307,310,739,681.66 was debt held by the public and $4,319,566,309,231.42 was intragovernmental debt.

As of the close of business on Tuesday, the total debt of the federal government was $18,150,481,620,363.39. Of this, $13,046,512,400,965.87 was debt held by the public, and $5,103,969,219,397.52 was intragovernmental debt.

The $13,046,512,400,965.87 in debt held by the public was an increase of $6,739,201,661,284.21—or 106.8 percent--from the $6,307,310,739,681.66 in debt held by the public on the day Obama was inaugurated.

That $6,739,201,661,284.21 increase in debt held by the public equaled

 $57,431.65 for each of 117,343,000 households the Census Bureau estimated there were in the United States as of June.

“Debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt holdings are very different,” the GAO said in its 2014 financial audit of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service. “Debt held by the public represents a claim on today’s taxpayers and absorbs resources from today’s economy. In addition, the interest paid on this debt may reduce budget flexibility because, unlike most of the budget, it cannot be controlled directly.”

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