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U.S. national debt tops $30 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 $30 trillion for the first time, an increase of nearly 10 trillion in less than five years, in part because of government spending due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The total public debt was $30,012,386,059,238.29 on Tuesday, of which $6.5 trillion are intragovernmental holdings and $23.5 trillion is debt held by the public. This is up by 1 trillion in just 1.5 month and more than 2 trillion in just over a year.

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 totaled $2.77 trillion in 2021, second to only the prior year, when a massive surge in government spending as a result of the pandemic pushed the deficit to $3.13 trillion. Deficits are expected to add another $12 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

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
  • 2022: $30 trillion
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