The Campaign Spot

Economy & Business

The $16 Trillion Debt Threshold Looms

Below, our old friend Mark Hemingway wonders if the August jobs report — scheduled to be released September 7, the day after the Democratic National Convention ends — will end up stepping on the message of the Obama-Biden campaign. Obama will offer some hope-and-change, there’s-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, the-sun-will-come-out-tomorrow convention speech, and then the next day, the jobs report will probably suggest that unemployment remains unchanged or is even increasing another tenth of a point. Perhaps the president will be “lucky” and the news will be that the top-line number is that the unemployment rate is back down to “merely” 8.2 percent.

But there’s another marker of national economic trouble that may hit during the Democrats’ convention; in recent months, the national debt has increased by about $2.8 billion per day. As of Wednesday, the national debt is $15.96 trillion. Which means there’s an excellent chance that the national debt number will surpass $16 trillion the week of the Democratic convention. (Steve Eggleston thinks we may see it next week; the amount of new debt the U.S. takes on each day varies; some days it even shrinks a bit . . . only to grow larger the next day.)

Either way, the psychological enormity of the $16 trillion number will be a useful rebuke to Obama’s management of the country’s finances, and a useful illustration of the Romney-Ryan argument that our debt is unsustainable.

Oh, and it’s worth remembering that the debt was $10.6 trillion on Inauguration Day. Obama has added $5.33 trillion in new debt in less than four years . . . and we remember what he said about President Bush adding $4 trillion in new debt in an eight-year span . . .

Perhaps then-Senator Obama believed it was “unpatriotic” to add so little new debt.

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