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November 19th, 2009
10:47 AM ET

A bipartisan push is needed to tame ballooning national debt


Evan Bayh
Special to CNN

America's national debt cannot grow beyond a limit imposed by Congress known as the "debt ceiling."

In 1919, just after World War I, the limit on U.S. borrowing was $43 billion.

By 2001, it had grown to $5.9 trillion.

Today, the debt ceiling is at an all-time high of $12.1 trillion.

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, our public debt amounted to 33 percent of our economy. Today, it is 60 percent of our gross domestic product. If we do nothing, our debt is projected to swell to over 70 percent by 2019.

To put those numbers in perspective: If you divided the debt equally among all Americans, every man, woman and child living in the United States today would owe more than $39,000.

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Filed under: Economy
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Mike, formerly from Syracuse, NY

    The Clinton 'surplus' had a major advantage, the end of the cold war. This excuse allowed him to slash the military by 40-45%. The resultant peace dividend became the surplus. The only problem was that it was a fantasy world. The resultant smaller military is precisely the reason we can't sustain what are really two relatively small efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq simultaneously. Now that we once again realize that it's a dangerous world, we need to reconstitute our military and cut so called entitlements. Of course, uberliberal Obama is doing just the opposite, so the debt will get worse, and our military will be cut to the bone.

    November 19, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  2. MR.AL

    Bipartisan is a wish Conservatives don't want any of bipartisan they can't agree on Health Care because special intrest would loose profits.During the Bush Cheney Administration backed by Conservatives 2000 to 2008 Bush spent more money in eight years than most Presidents spend. Like father like son they both started a war they couldn't finish GW Bush just spent America into a Recession and now they blame President Obama for the mess they created. Conservatives won't and never will take the blame. They only back the wealthy and corperate america they don't care who gets hurt and we all know the lower classes, the SSI retirees and disabled took a major hit this year. When is America going to wake up and see what has happened since 2000 till now I don't the whole truth has been told. These three letters have no meaning anymore "G.O.P" GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE. .

    November 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  3. alex lyrics

    I hope he brought back some jobs

    November 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  4. earle,florida

    Let's start with a "Buy American Program",and limit/amend the free trade agreements to fair,and equitable transparent parameters favorable to a level playing field for the american worker. Why is it that...example#1: a washing machine/dryer cost has gone up more than inflation ,perhaps in some cases 25% while being manufactured wholly offshore with $2/hr. labor at best,and materials cost substantially lower than indusrialized nations to dramatize the situation severity of imbalance...Example#2: Automobiles from South Korea cost the same or more than american made auto's,..yet labor cost,and material cost are substantially less than industrialized nations (strickly referring to the United States), and now President Obama's Administration wants to sign a free trade agreement with S.korea that makes NAFTA & CAFTA,and the other free trade agereements we have with China seem insignificant in size. Finally ,...as a nation we can reduce our debt by increasing our GDP only by leveling the playing field so the imbalances of trade can be turned around in america's favor,....and not wall street,while wearing a double-breasted blazer blatantly embellishing the emblematic "Red Star of China"as america's panacea cure-all!

    November 19, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  5. A. Smith, Oregon

    It's too late for bi-partisan efforts to rein in such enormous national debt.

    The time to rein in National Debt was when Bush jr. came to office. He swiftly spent all of the surplus which former President Clinton had built up, and then under a thick veil of lies got America involved in two foreign wars. VP Cheney again lied to Congress, the Senate and the American people telling them each the war in Iraq would at most cost 50 billion dollars!

    America cannot wait any longer in placing funds into its infra-structure. Repairing Bridges, Dams, Public Schools, Levees, Ports, Harbors which went entirely unfunded during the previous 8 years under Bush-Cheney.

    America made a great mistake in placing Bush-Cheney into the White House and now must pay a very high price in climbing out of the gaping hole of debt as a direct result.

    November 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  6. Tim Gibson

    When did our government forget that they work for us, that we do not work for them.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:40 am |