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Just who does the U.S. owe $16 trillion to?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 6th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A national debt of $156 trillion has been a major sticking point among republicans, who are taking aim at U.S. President Barak Obama as the Democrats hold their national convention this week. Obama's critics say that this points out the president's failure to tame the national deficit. Just who does the U.S. owe that staggering amount to? You may be surprised -

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While common opinion has the nation of China's as doing most of the bankrolling, it turns out that the problem lies mainly from within.

Fully two-thirds of the national debt is on the account of the U.S. government, American investors and future retirees through the Social Security Trust Fund and pension plans for civil service workers and military personnel. China - most surprisingly - holds less than eight percent of the money our government has borrowed over the years.

"It is true that China is the largest foreign owner of our debt," Josh Gordon, policy director of the Concord Coalition, a Virginia-based nonprofit says. "But the vast majority of our debt is held by us."

Few doubt that the federal government's tab is immense and spiraling out of control. Just under $5 trillion of the national debt is owed to the Social Security Trust Fund and federal pension systems. A little more than $11 trillion is owed to foreign and domestic investors and the Federal Reserve.

In fact, China has actually decreased its holdings of U.S. debt over the past year, dropping from $1.31 trillion in June 2011 to $1.16 trillion a year later. Japan holds nearly as much, at $1.12 trillion.

Dozens of other nations, including Brazil, Russia, Taiwan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom hold trillions more.

Inside the U.S., private investors hold nearly $1 trillion in federal debt, while mutual funds, insurance companies and state and local governments hold nearly double that amount.

In spite of these cold, hard statistics, China continues to be viewed as the demon must responsible for financing our deficit spending.

During his 2008 campaign, President Obama criticized President Bush for taking "out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents . so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back."

Obama has since been unable to slow the rapidly mounting debt. The nation owed $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009, at the start of his administration, and has added another $5.4 trillion since, which is more than President George W. Bush piled up in two terms.

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