The National Debt Clock puts the U.S. national debt at $7,394,068,208,622.52 as of 8:27:10 PM GMT, Sep 26, 2004. It will soon hit $10 trillion and not look back. Rightly, many are concerned.
Thomas R. Saving recently wrote in the WSJ that the Social Security and Medicare unfunded liability is $73 trillion, 10 times the national debt. The new drug benefit will quickly make this worse.
The national debt got to where it is because politicians like to spend money and cut taxes and because of wars and the problems with raising taxes during economic recessions. The Bush tax cuts are widely cited for their regressivity but the Social Security "payroll tax" is the most regressive federal tax we pay -- and the fastest growing.
Yet, many of those who fret most over the national debt and the Bush tax cuts vow to defend the Social Security status quo.
Perhaps it's back to the idea that the "smaller" numbers are more comprehensible. Elite opinion can fathom trillions but balks at tens of trillions.