Total U.S. public debt outstanding, 2005-2018. Graphic: James P. Galasyn

By Kathryn Watson
17 March 2018

(CBS News) – About a year ago, President Trump pledged to eliminate the national debt "over a period of eight years." But for the first time in history, the national debt surpassed $21 trillion this week, according to the U.S. Treasury.

The landmark comes shortly after Congress passed, and Mr. Trump signed, a suspension on the federal debt limit last month, allowing the government to borrow an unlimited amount of money until March 1, 2019.

When Mr. Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017, the national debt was $19.9 trillion, according to U.S. Treasury data. Since then, the GOP-led Congress has passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill and a two-year spending deal which, together, are expected to drive the deficit and debt further upward. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates annual deficits could top $2.1 trillion per year in the next decade, which would send the national debt soaring even higher.

Republicans railed against the national debt level under the Obama administration, when it jumped from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion, nearly doubling, but few have been as outspoken about the situation with Republicans controlling Capitol Hill and the White House. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, held up the spending bill last month on the Senate floor, blistering Republicans for doing exactly what they had criticized the Obama administration for doing.

"I ran for office because I was critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits," Paul said at the time. "Now we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, called the national debt the "greatest threat to our nation" when it exceeded $20 trillion for the first time in September. [more]

Under Trump's watch, national debt tops $21 trillion for first time ever


Total outstanding U.S. credit card debt, 1986-2017. At more than $1 trillion, outstanding credit card debt is at the highest point ever. Graphic: WalletHub

By Nataly Pak
8 March 2018

(ABC News) – U.S. consumers’ total credit card debt exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, according to a new study by the personal finance website WalletHub.

Consumers took on an additional $92.2 billion in debt last year, the highest single-year amount since 2007. The average U.S. household owes $8,600 on credit cards, WalletHub found.

The accumulation of debt reflected Americans' confidence in the economy, according to Jill Gonzalez, a senior analyst at WalletHub.

“We haven’t seen anything like this,” she told ABC News. “Consumer confidence is at its highest point. Since the recession, people have been saving up for houses, cars ... new furniture and appliances, which often get charged on credit cards.”

In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, consumers added $67.6 billion while the charge-off rate remained at historical lows.

Charge-off rate is the percentage of credit card users whose unpaid balances credit card companies are unable to collect.

The low charge-off rate is helping lenders continue to extend credit, making it easier for consumers to spend.

However, the delinquency rate increased at the end of the third quarter last year, she said.

“People are spending so much more than they have. They cannot keep up with the bill,” said Gonzalez. [more]

Credit card debt surpasses $1 trillion in the US for first time

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