by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Obama reached a milestone last week: a doubling of the national debt held by the public in his nearly seven years in office.
Obama made his first presidential impression on federal spending in mid-March, 2009, less than two months after entering office. When he signed an omnibus spending bill into law that boosted federal agency budgets by double digits in some cases, the debt held by the public sat at $6.662 trillion.
Late last week, just days after Obama signed a bill to suspend the debt ceiling, total public debt rose to $13.378 trillion, doubling in just short of seven years.
According to the federal government, debt held by the public is all federal debt held by people, companies, state and local governments, Federal Reserve banks, foreign governments and other non-U.S. entities, minus certain bank securities.
The government separates out another kind of debt, which is intragovernmental holdings, or debt caused by the government when it borrows from its own accounts. Intragovernmental holdings stood at $4.288 trillion in March 2009, when Obama signed his first big spending bill.
Nearly seven years later, the government has borrowed another $1 trillion from its own accounts, and intragovernmental holdings debt now stands at $5.231 trillion.
Combining the two figures, total national debt was $11 trillion when Obama first had a say in the spending process as president, and as of late last week, it was $18.6 trillion.
The growth in total national debt is something Obama has largely ignored when he speaks about fiscal issues. Instead, he has focused on the decline in the annual budget deficit, which contributes each year to the total national debt.