Is the National Debt $19 Trillion?
Quite a few candidates in last night’s debate mentioned the size of the national debt, but not all were able to do so successfully, with some saying $18 trillion and some saying $19 trillion.
To clarify, the U.S. gross debt as of September 15, 2015 stood at $18.15 trillion. Gross debt is a measure of all outstanding bonds, including those the government owes to itself – such as the bonds that the Social Security Trust Fund holds.
However, if we exclude the money the government owes to itself, it results in a concept called debt held by the public. This number is about $5 trillion lower, totaling approximately $13.15 trillion. Currently, debt held by the public is about 74 percent of the size of the economy, and is projected to rise to 77 percent by 2025.