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November 23, 2009

NYTimes Get Debt Interest Very Wrong

-- by Dave Johnson

From Payback Time - Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government - Series - NYTimes.com

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.
Just wrong.

According to the US Treasury, the interest on the debt was $451 billion in 2008. I'm not clear on the 2009 number yet, but it may actually be lower due to lower interest rates.

This changes the character of the entire NYTimes story, which claims interest could soar to over $700 billion "up from $202 billion." A climb from approx. $450-500 billion just doesn't sound as scary. The conclusions I guess we are supposed to draw are stop helping the unemployed, don't reform health care. (But of course ignore the $1 trillion military budget, more than the rest of the world combined spends.)

And by the way, this is the Reagan/Bush debt they are writing about. Obama has added very little to that.

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 23, 2009 7:06 AM


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