National Debt Clock Twitter

A few weeks ago I met up with some old friends in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown for some sushi. During the course of conversation the national debt came up. I mentioned that the official Twitter “debt clock” was frozen at just under $17 trillion for what seemed like a long time. Too long of a time. My friend asked how that was possible and I said that I had no idea other than that the feds were probably playing some strange accounting games that would land the average American citizen in prison.

It turns out that Terrence Jeffery of CNS News has been wondering the exact same thing:

According to the Daily Treasury Statement for July 26, which the Treasury released this afternoon, the federal debt has been stuck at exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 70 straight days.

That is approximately $25 million below the legal limit of $16,699,421,095,673.60 that Congress has imposed on the debt.

The portion of the federal debt subject to the legal limit set by Congress first hit $16,699,396,000,000.00 at the close of business on May 17. At the close of every business day since then, it has also been $16,699,396,000,000.00, according to the official accounting published by the Treasury Department.

If the debt had increased by even $30 million at any time during those 70 days, it would have exceeded the statutory limit. But, according to the Treasury, the debt did not do that. Instead, it remained precisely $16,699,396,000,000.00.

Even though the government’s official accounting of the debt has not budged for 70 days, the Treasury has continued to sell bills, notes and bonds at a value that exceeds the value of the bills, notes and bonds it was redeeming.

Ask yourself: Does this pass the sniff test? Of course not.

On May 17, the day the debt began its long stay at $16,699,396,000,000.00, Treasury Secretary Lew sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lew said the Treasury would begin implementing what he called “the standard set of extraordinary measures” that allows the Treasury to continue to borrow and spend money even after it has hit the legal debt limit.

This is exactly what I have talked about for years on this blog. The U.S. economy is resting over a giant sinkhole of debt that continues to grow, and at some point it’s going to suck a whole lot of people into darkness and despair. The American people who spend their nights looking and laughing at pictures of Anthony Weiner’s blurred weiner on “The Dirty” will soon come face to face with a fiscal reality that is far scarier than a pervert from New York. Politicians in both parties will have blood on their hands, but ultimately it is we the people who are to blame.

We elect buffoons into office. We allow the media to distract us with circus-side shows.  We have become so invested in “red” vs. “blue” that slick politicians have been able to exploit blind partisanship for personal gain.

The real question is: Who stands for freedom and who sets the stage for tyranny?

Does President Obama stand for liberty? Does John Boehner stand for liberty? If you answer “yes” or “no” like a Pavlovian dog the moment your brain registers each man’s party affiliation, then congratulations — you are a dutiful little red or blue foot solider. Unfortunately, recessions and depressions don’t care whether you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name.

The truth is that almost no one in Washington is telling the truth. We went over the real “fiscal cliff” some time ago. The exact date is uncertain, but right now Uncle Sam is an unconscious man in free fall after being thrown out an airplane. Will America wake up in time to pull the parachute, or are we too close to the pavement already? It’s a good question.

By this time, most people are familiar with the saying: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” It’s true. The problem is, at one point in time our little economic Mustang had plenty of roadway to ease on the brakes, change direction and ride off into the sunset. Now, the wall is before us and we’re still careening towards it, ever closer, at 100 m.p.h. — and instead of pumping the brakes and telling you to make sure your seat belt is on, President Obama and John Boehner are asking you look out the window and enjoy the scenery.

I have my seat belt on. I’m a weird guy and decided to wear a crash helmet because I never cared what other people thought of me. What about you?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to the metaphor store. I used quite a few of them in this post and I need to restock the shelves.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

13 comments

  1. criticizing only the national debt is like focusing on a pulled hamstring during a heart attack.

    connect the national debt to a derivatives market that could be as big as 1.2 quadrillion dollars and then connect that to corporations sitting on over a trillion dollars.

    the national debt is a part of it, but it’s not the bigger picture.

    1. Do you know what people are searching to get to this blog today, Lizard19? They’re searching “national debt”. This post was shared by some random dude on Reddit and it’s received hundreds of views. I’m pretty sure that writing on derivatives would not have captured their attention — as important as it may be.

      I’m okay with who I am. I write on what I’m comfortable talking about and what interests me. I’m happy. And guess what: I wish you the best of luck writing about the metaphorical heart attack the world is about to have. If you’re Team Derivatives, I hope you win. I also hope people click the links you’ve provided and learn something, which, oddly enough, would have never happened without me discussing the “hamstring.” We all have our place in the universe, don’t we?

    2. I was told I was too hard on you in my last response by a friend. I thought you deserved to see his response:

      Hmmmm, you might have been a little harsh with lizard on this one. He has a point (albeit, no proposed solution)…derivatives get murky with “real” vs “notional” value, and they fluctuate tremendously. As for offshore – the logical conclusion to lizard’s line of thought is that the govt should seize that money to pay the debt; problem is it was done legally through loopholes in existing laws…I don’t think we (as a country) can just take it. While I agree it’s a shady practice, it’s been going on forever, and when you tax too high you get california – so it’s a catch 22.

      The debt will never be paid off 100%, we need capital to invest in things, or to fund emergencies. The problem is when it grows past our GDP, then we are on bad footing… Ideally you want it 40-50% of GDP to keep the wheels greased of the economy and have wiggle room for economic downturns and events like hurricane sandy. The last I checked it was 104% of GDP…this continuous printing of money can’t be good either. Get ready for some inflation.

    3. Kudos Douglas. I was looking for an example of injustice for our Meeting and this will be just one of the many crimes brought out by mans mishmash of mismanaging planet earth on a global scale. Just proves we need Something a lot bigger than flesh and blood to fix it all. But most people don’t believe it’s been more than flesh and blood ruling for a long time. If I may. Rev 12:7-9,12. I love knowing this information coupled with what Gods word has been telling us all along. Jeremiah 10:23. Just never belonged to man who is walking to DIRECT his own step. A claim a big enemy of order and peace made from man kinds start. That the creator was selfish and man could determine what was best for himself… Well like a good father who had to step back and allow man to walk and try every course imaginable to prove man could in no way be succeful on his own… I do believe his point has been firmly established Once and for all. Keep doing what u do Douglas. I love it!!

    4. Thanks for the kind words, Joyce. I really appreciate it. The best I can do is be true to myself … to be as honest as I can be, and hope it resonates with people. I’m not sure where you fall on a number of topics along the political spectrum, but should we disagree from time-to-time I will do my best to understand where you’re coming from and find some sort of common ground.

    5. I wish your friend had actually read the second link, because it’s not about off-shore tax shelters. why are corporations hoarding reserves? the cover story is the deficit makes them scared about future taxation. regardless of why, that hoarding stands in stark contrast to the justification of Bush’s tax cuts; that if unburdened from unfair, onerous taxes, the private sector would gleefully invest and expand the economy.

      instead, wall street ramped up the derivative casino.

      with the Fed’s perpetual money making machine, where’s the patriotic private sector now? is it really fear of future taxation, or is it maybe the fake recovery—papering over a seething stagnation with quantitative easing, complicit ratings agencies, and bought politicians—that makes sitting on cash-money seem like the smart thing to do?

    6. Ask and you shall receive:

      Where does he think this “extra” money is sitting?; actually the article hypothesizes its not about future taxes; just herd mentality regarding uncertainty of an economy not fixed……perhaps Washington should get on that; again we must grow GDP faster than debt, or we’ll never get it under control. No one system will be perfect, but I thought Romney’s list of things to boost the economy from the first(?) debate was at least a start; I wish he articulated that better.

      I’m glad Lizard is at least sticking to topic this time!

      I was just about to write basically the same thing and then I thought, “Hmmm, let me check my email first.”

      “…that hoarding stands in stark contrast to the justification of Bush’s tax cuts,” Lizard19.

      Actually, no it doesn’t. I wish you could meet my buddy, who voted for Obama in 2008 and then shortly after he started his own small business had a complete transformation. Or, perhaps you can try and start your own small business so that you could personally experience an uncertain business climate, a complex and confusing tax code and needless red tape. Tax cuts are not some magic bullet. What you do is try and create the right environment for businessmen and entrepreneurs to unleash their creative energies. One way is through lower taxation.

      Again, I wish you could have heard my friend speak of businessman five years ago. He sounded remarkably like you when it comes to taxes. Not so much these days.

  2. I helped promote a libertarian blogger’s regulation project that specifically looked at how regulation stifled small business startups. if folks waded into the regulation issue without partisan biases (I am not exempt from those), they may discover bigger businesses benefit from regulations that keep competitors from getting established. in Montana, for example, we had Republicans and some Democrats supporting the tavern association’s legislative attack against breweries because breweries have taprooms that compete with bars.

    but that’s local. looking at the bigger picture, I think the economic uncertainty, conscious or not, ultimately stems from the economic crisis that blew up when the housing bubble burst over 4 years ago, and the systemic issues that led to that bubble forming have only been papered over.

    crisis delayed is not crisis averted.

  3. Barack Obama has ignored the constitution repeatedly and yet he won reelection quite easily. The American people are indeed sleep-walking on the way to our collective death as a nation. The frozen debt clock is straight out of Orwell, or should I say “PRE”-Orwell, for these incidences of supreme central power, in which lies become accepted truth, happen incrementally on the way to total domination and destruction of the individual.
    Drip drip drip goes the torture of Obama’s fascist regime, and we are close to the pavement indeed.

    1. For what it’s worth, Sasoc, I’m incredibly glad that I came across your blog shortly after starting my own a few years ago. While I have focused less on politics these days (there might be a blog post on that shortly), I still am very much politically aware. While you might be too humble to say it yourself, I will: You are in many ways a modern day Paul Revere. Thank you. Your blog is inspiring, and you deserve a bigger megaphone. I think some time ago you mentioned the possibility of putting together a book, and I really hope you go that route because you have a gift.

      Indeed, things are looking very Orwellian these days. Perhaps if you put your thoughts down in print (even if it’s self published), a free-thinking young kid will run across your words and use them as a springboard to achieving great things.

      Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to read and comment and — most importantly — thank you for keeping up your own blog. Unlike the guys on CNN or Fox or MSNBC … you don’t get paid millions (and perhaps nothing at all) for what you do. You do it because you care about your fellow Americans. It’s comforting to know that there are individuals like you out there — no matter what the future holds for us collectively.

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