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U.S. federal debt continues to grow

Published: Friday, July 4 2014 9:20 p.m. MDT

The amount of debt issued by the U.S. Treasury and held by the public totaled just under $12.6 trillion last week. When borrowings between government entities are included, the total public debt outstanding reaches over $17.5 trillion.

Evan Vucci, Associated Press

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The U.S. Treasury Department reported last week that the amount of debt issued by the U.S. Treasury and held by the public totaled just under $12.6 trillion. When borrowings between government entities, which are termed intragovernmental holdings in the official U.S. Treasury reports, are included, the total public debt outstanding reaches over $17.5 trillion.

Our current U.S. president was originally inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009. According to the U.S. Treasury, the debt held by the public totaled $6.3 trillion on that day. Given the June total mentioned above, the amount of debt issued by the U.S. Treasury and held by the public has increased by approximately 100 percent since the president took office.

Within the totals reported in the category of debt held by the public, borrowings are divided between marketable and non-marketable. As of the end of May, the total of the marketable debt held by the public totaled a little over $12 trillion.

Other statistics reported by the U.S. Treasury include the costs of the marketable and non-marketable debt outstanding. As of May 31, the average interest rate on the marketable debt was reported to be slightly above 2 percent. It is noted in the report that the average interest rate on this debt does not include the costs of the various types of inflation-indexed borrowings issued by the U.S Treasury.

Servicing the interest costs on the outstanding debt is a material portion of the overall federal budget. According to the Congressional Budget Office, net interest costs are forecast to consume approximately 7 percent of the overall 2014 federal budget.

In comparison, Social Security costs are predicted to consume approximately 24 percent of the overall 2014 federal budget. Defense expenses are forecast to account for about 17 percent of the budget, with Medicare and Medicaid together accounting for 25 percent of the total 2014 budget.

For those so inclined to donate to reduce the amount of U.S. government debt outstanding, Treasury Department website fiscal.treasury.gov provides both online payment options and a mailing address.

Kirby Brown is the CEO of Beneficial Financial Group, which is based in Salt Lake City.

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