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November 26, 2008


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"Only a paltry 37% of GDP is federal government debt, which is down from 46% a decade ago"

Here's 3 sources that put our debt in the 60-70% of GDP and 2 show it historically with it increasing past 10 years:

I realize the numbers here aren't central to the point. But it its just bad to throw around data that is wrong like this.

I do agree with the main point of the article and sorry to detract from that by quibbling over facts.


We are doing a secret Santa this year - everyone gets one present and we have set a price for the present... it's the 2nd time we are doing it and it seems to result in more thoughfulness in the gift, as well as savings.

Let's bing again, like we did last Christmas
Let's bing again, binging time is here

@ Jim: I had to double check, 'cause, well, it's Wikipedia. And I'm actually finding contradictory numbers from the Government Printing Office AND the Treasury Department that support the author.

GPO: (it's an excel download)
Treasury: (latest monthly statement about the public debt that back up the GPO data).

I see the Wikipedia article snagged the info directly from the CIA's World Factbook ( ), and that 60% is from a "2007 estimate", but it never says when the estimate was made. I'm a bit puzzled over these numbers, as all three clearly state Public Debt. I'm more likely to believe the current Treasury statement, however.

Throwing around bad data is wrong, Jim. (Couldn't resist. Sorry.)


The exact numbers will change monthly or from year to year. All of these sources are only as timely as when they were published. The exact number is hard to get up to date cause its a moving target and the numbers are tallied after the fact.

The GPO sheet you point to is 2 year old and says the Gross federal debt as % of GDP is 65.5% in 2007 and 66% in 2008 (both estimated). Thats not contradicting what I said. I found sources putting the debt at 60-70% of GDP.

The treasury source says the total public debt is outstanding as of Oct 31 is 10.5T. Thats probably the most current figure. Its about $1 TRILLION more than the estimate the GPO had from 2006 for this year. So the debt / GPD is absolutely increasing very fast.


Oh.. OK I see it now. Thanks Amy. Marotta is talking about the debt HELD BY PUBLIC. So he is not "wrong" as I assumed, but just talking about a portion of the total gross debt. My mistake.

Marotta said: "Only a paltry 37% of GDP is federal government debt, which is down from 46% a decade ago."
The GPO sheet says that the federal debt "held by the public" is 36.8% in 2008 and 46.1% in 1998.
So Marotta is talking about federal debt HELD BY THE PUBLIC. That clears up why the numbers are so low. The GPO numbers do match what Marotta says so I think its clear thats what he's talking about. So his numbers are good, it just wasn't clear how he was counting debt since he picked the best possible number that excluded a large portion of the true debt.

If you only look at the debt held by the public then that ignores all the money that the govt. owes itself. THe government borrows money from social security reserve which it is going to have to pay back.


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