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Here‚??s what $18 trillion in national debt looks like

Warning: Graphic content.

This article originally appeared on

America‚??s national debt topped $18 trillion Friday,¬†according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Public debt outstanding has since dipped slightly but will probably exceed $18 trillion again in a matter of days.

When President Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009, debt held by the public plus intragovernmental holdings totaled¬†$10.63 trillion. During Obama‚??s presidency, the national debt has increased by $7.38 trillion ‚?? an average of more than $3.4 billion every day.


The tower of debt depicted above contains 100,000 bundles of $10,000 stacked 10 wide, 80 deep and 125 high. It takes most American families more than two months to earn $10,000; the U.S. Census Bureau estimates median household income was $51,939 last year.

At¬†more than $56,000¬†per man, woman and child, each American‚??s share of the national debt is greater than the¬†median household income. The federal government‚??s debt¬†is also greater than America‚??s¬†2013 gross domestic product of $16.8 trillion.

Even trying¬†to visualize $1 trillion ‚??¬†100 million bundles of $10,000, or 10 billion $100 bills ‚??¬†is difficult. The $18 trillion national debt would fill 2,392¬†48-foot semi trailers jammed full of¬†$100 bills.


Covering a football field like the one where Obama gave his presidential nomination acceptance speech in 2008, the national debt in $100 bills would reach 124 feet into the air.




The federal government¬†ran annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion every year of Obama‚??s first term, with President George W. Bush presiding over several months of fiscal year 2009 before Democrats passed¬†Obama‚??s $800 billion ‚??stimulus‚?Ě package.

National¬†debt increased by slightly less than¬†$5 trillion through the entirety of Bush‚??s two profligate terms. As of June, international investors and foreign governments held more than $6 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities¬†according to the Treasury department.

Public debt reported by the Department of the Treasury does not include an estimated $49 trillion in unfunded Medicare and Social Security liabilities, and it does not include more than $4 trillion in unfunded state pension liabilities.

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