Nation’s Debt

By Diane Lim Rogers

So, have you heard that the U.S., as a whole, is overextended?   Have you heard that the federal government is “rescuing” the bad debt in the private sector by taking it on as their own, really all our children’s own, hopefully not-quite-as-bad debt? 

We’re just moving the debt around in our economy, not getting rid of any of it.  For proof one need only look up at the National Debt Clock in NYC, which in the past week had to give up its dollar-sign digit for a “1″.  The owner of the sign is working on getting a couple more digits added to the clock.  Why do I worry that folks might interpret that as an increase in the debt/credit limit of the country?

(The debt clock shows gross debt, which as of yesterday was at $10.2 trillion, which includes the debt the federal government “owes” to itself through the Social Security trust fund.) 

The “debt held by the public,” what the government owes to others, both in this country and abroad, is just under $6 trillion, but it’s gone up just as fast as the gross debt in the past week, because all of this new debt we’re issuing to finance the rescue is real debt, really owed to others–not just to the trust fund.  Want to learn more about the different measures of debt?  See this page on Concord’s website.  

Latest Articles by Diane Lim Rogers’s  

Nation’s Debt: It’s Not Being Rescued, It’s Being Moved Around

on Oct 09, 2008   

Signed Rescue Bill Hasn’t Stopped the Market’s Downward Trend

on Oct 04, 2008   

In Case a $700B Addition to the Debt Isn’t Enough

on Oct 01, 2008   

Is This Bailout All Just a Game of Rock, Paper, Scissors?

on Sep 24, 2008   

Financial Crisis: This Is the Real Deal

on Sep 18, 2008    about AIG

Greenspan on McCain Tax Policy: No Reduction Without Corresponding Spending Cuts

on Sep 14, 2008   

CBO Report Lays To Rest Hopes of Balanced Budget

      on Sep 09, 2008   

Is McCain’s Tax Plan Really Any Different From Current Policy?

      on Sep 09, 2008   

Some Inconvenient Truths About the McCain and Obama Tax Plans

      on Sep 09, 2008   

More on ‘Buffett Pie’ and Paying For Tax Cuts

      on Sep 02, 2008   

‘The Pie’s Getting Larger’ – What Warren Buffett Means

      on Aug 31, 2008   

The Obama Plan: We Can’t Entitle Our Way Out of Paying Taxes

      on Aug 24, 2008   

Obama vs. McCain on Fiscal Responsibility  

on Aug 19, 2008  

Diane Lim Rogers is the Concord Coalition’s first Chief Economist and their first “blogger” ( In 2007-2008 she was Chief Economist for the House Budget Committee. In 2006 she was Research Director of the Budgeting for National Priorities project at the Brookings Institution, where she wrote about fiscal responsibility and participated in the Concord Coalition’s “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.”

Diane served as Chief Economist for the House Ways and Means Committee Democrats, and Principal Economist for the Joint Economic Committee Democrats. She was a Senior Economist on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers during the last year of the Clinton Administration and first 100 days of the Bush Administration, and in President Clinton’s final Economic Report of the President (2001) drafted the sections extolling the merits of fiscal discipline. Diane has also worked at the Urban Institute, the Congressional Budget Office, and Penn State University.


Diane holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan (1983), an M.A. from Brown University (1984), and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia (1991). Her husband, John, is an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, and they have four children.


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