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The US public debt (the total of all annual budget deficits) now exceeds $17 trillion and is climbing rapidly. By the time President Obama leaves office, the public debt will likely be more than $20 trillion which is almost double what it was when Obama took office. In other words the current President will have incurred almost as much debt as all other 43 presidents combined. Why is the debt so big?
The problem started in the 1940’s. In order to finance World War II, the federal government sold war bonds. These were primarily 20 year bonds, which meant they would have to be repaid in the 1960’s. The problem was that there was never any mechanism put in place to repay the bonds, so that when they matured, the debt was simply “rolled over” which meant new bonds were sold to repay the existing bonds. This practice continues today.