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U.S. national debt tops $28 trillion for the 1st time

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File photo: U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. (Credit: AgnosticPreachersKid)

The public debt held by the United States has surpassed $28 trillion for the first time, an increase of nearly four trillion in one year amid a massive surge in government spending due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The total public debt was $28,004,376,276,999.35 on Tuesday, of which $6.1 trillion are intergovernmental holdings and $21.9 trillion is debt held by the public. This is up by a trillion when compared to October 1, when the national debt reached $27 trillion.

The national debt nearly doubled during Barack Obama’s presidency but accelerated even faster under President Donald Trump, in part because of the Republican overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 2017 but also because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The budget deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion in 2020, $2 trillion more than initially forecast.

History of the U.S. national debt

  • 1783: $43 million (the first public debt)
  • 1800: $82.9 million
  • 1835: $0
  • The entire public debt was paid off under President Andrew Jackson.
  • 1845: $15.9 million
  • 1860: $64.8 million (before the Civil War)
  • 1865: $2.6 billion (after the Civil War)
  • 1893: $1.5 billion
  • 1914: $2.9 billion (before World War I)
  • 1919: $27.3 billion (after World War I)
  • 1930: $16.1 billion
  • 1939: $40.4 billion (before World War II)
  • 1946: $269.4 billion (after World War II)
  • 1963: $305.8 billion
  • 1975: $533.1 billion
  • 1982: $1 trillion
  • 1996: $5 trillion
  • 2008: $10 trillion
  • 2017: $20 trillion
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