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Debt-free by 2009?

When Clinton was in office, the U.S. national debt was significantly lower than it is today. His administration was recognized for reducing the debt levels.

During a White House press conference on Dec. 28, 2000, Clinton highlighted the fiscal achievements of his tenure, saying, “Our updated projections show that in this fiscal year alone, we expect to pay down the debt by an unprecedented $237 billion, meaning that over the course of just four years, we will have paid down the debt by $600 billion.”

He also cited budget projections that offered an optimistic outlook for the upcoming decade. However, it’s important to understand the context for these projections.

“Let's start with what the budget experts call the baseline. That's a budget that just increases with inflation and no new initiatives,” he explained. “The new projections show that if we took that budget and committed the entire surplus to reducing the debt, we can make America debt-free by 2009.”

However, Clinton acknowledged that no one is suggesting any administration will “go that long with no new initiatives.” Moreover, he advocated for a balanced approach, using part of the budget surplus for key investments in education, Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors, and targeted tax cuts.

He suggested that if the incoming administration and the new Congress follow these steps, they could still lead America out of debt early.

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always follow the script. By the end of 2009, U.S. Federal Government debt had reached $12.3 trillion.

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$34 trillion and rising

Time moves quickly, and so does the escalation of America's debt. The latest data suggests that the U.S. national debt has now exceeded a staggering $34 trillion.

However, this figure is just a portion of the total debt burden carried by Americans.

In Musk’s post, he provided a link to usdebtclock.org, a website that offers real-time tracking and various economic and financial data of the U.S., most notably the national debt.

According to the website, U.S. total debt is now at $97.39 trillion, a number that continues to grow. This comprehensive figure includes the combined debts of households, businesses, state and local governments, financial institutions and the federal government.

Musk is not the only billionaire who’s concerned about America’s debt trajectory. Ray Dalio, famed investor and founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, has also issued warnings about the rapidly increasing national debt.

“We are at a point in which we are borrowing money to pay debt service,” he said in a recent CNBC interview.

Dalio explained that if a country’s debt were to grow faster than its income, its debt service would be “encroaching” on its spending. And if the country wanted to maintain its current level of spending, it would need to “get more and more into debt.”

“The way that works, it accelerates,” he warned.

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About the Author

Jing Pan

Jing Pan

Investment Reporter

Jing is an investment reporter for MoneyWise. He is an avid advocate of investing for passive income. Despite the ups and downs he’s been through with the markets, Jing believes that you can generate a steadily increasing income stream by investing in high quality companies.

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