Sky is the limit". The famous adage illustrates the agreement reached this Saturday between Republicans and Democrats. The compromise reached, which still has to be voted by Congress on Wednesday, advocates a suspension of the debt ceiling until 2025. Apart from the new increase in the defence budget, most federal spending is expected to be capped for two years. Enough to stabilize and then reduce a bill that amounts to more than 31,000,000,000,000 dollars. A sequence of zeros that plunges us into the meanders of the infinitely large.
Fortunately, the shortcuts offered by the language allow us to speak more simply of "31 trillion" or "31,000 billion" dollars. Concise formulas, which nevertheless carry the risk of a certain statistical indifference: for many, this debt is only one number among many. But then what does $31 trillion really represent?
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Some indicators provided by the US Debt Clock make it possible to better understand this debt. The debt weighs heavily on the shoulders of the United States: it is 95,000 dollars per capita. It's as if every American bought a Cadillac Escalade Sport on credit. A telling example. The debt per taxpayer reaches 250,000 euros. An astronomical sum.
Moreover, the $31 trillion is also 000 times the GDP of the France, or nearly a third of the world's GDP. Symbolically, it would be necessary to fill nearly 10 Olympic swimming pools with 11kg gold bars to arrive at the sum of 1,31 billion dollars. Similarly, it would be necessary to pocket 000,140 times the largest sum ever won at Euromillions (000 million euros) to reach the level of the American debt.
A military budget that weighs as much as Poland's GDP
But then what are the main sectors that are increasing debt? In the first quarter of 2023, 18% of investments were dedicated to Defence. There are also some traditional expenses such as Health Insurance (16.40%), Social Security (15.5%) or Health (12%), which had particularly inflated during the Covid-19 crisis.
Distribution of the US budget in the first quarter of 2023 Based on figures published by fiscaldata.treasurery.gov
Debt also carries underlying costs: for every dollar taxed in the United States, 10 cents is dedicated to paying net interest on the public debt. These reach 30 billion dollars per month, which represents half of the budget of the current French armies. No doubt: Uncle Sam's debt is of an extraordinary caliber.