Really, the facts and figures about America's national debt make horrendous reading. Here's a smattering: It took the US from George Washington to Ronal Reagan to reach its first trillion in debt; When George Bush took office the debt was $5.7bn; when the national debt hits $10bn, probably sometime around the time Bush leaves office in January 2009, the debt clock in New York’s Times Square will not have enough zeroes to register the fact; paying the interest on this debt is now the third largest item on the US budget, behind only retirement and health entitlements and defence.
As Timmy points out, the guy's figures are just a wee bit out.
Out there by three orders of magnitude I think. Trillion, not billion. Still, nice to see that someone is indeed worrying aout the level of US public debt. Like that nice Mr. Bush is, as he’s been gettin te deficit down these past couple of years, hasn’t he?
Don't these people have editors?
And paying for the national deficit is the third largest item on the US national budget? Well, maybe, but our government has also been spending money like water.
Servicing the UK's central government debt, i.e. simply paying the interest, cost £27,424,000,000 in 2006/07 and is estimated to cost £29,100,000,000 in 2007/08 (Table 1.15: 2.1MB PDF).
This makes it the fourth biggest item on our government's budget, beaten only by Health (£88.278 billion), Education and Skills (£61.606 billion) and Defence (£31.890 billion) (Table 1.13 in the PDF above).
Strangely, The Guardian doesn't see fit to compile "horrendous" facts and figures on the Labour government's profligacy: perhaps because it would upset the Guardian Media Group Chairman?
UPDATE: thanks to the commenter who pointed out that Welfare should surely be the biggest item; he is right. Unlike Health, for instance, welfare is split across various departments and schemes (so Tax Credits, for instance, is an entry on its own). However, having hunted through some other Tables, I am pleased to update you all.
The most massive single item is, indeed, Social Security Benefits at £134,463,000,000 for 2006/07 and £140,900,000,000 projected for 2007/08.
When you add up all of the different sections, however, the total figure for benefits is somewhere just north of £200 billion. Just so you know...