Just last year, U.S. public debt totaled $7.5 trillion — a sum equal to all the indebtedness accumulated from our 225 years in existence as a nation. But by 2020, total U.S. public debt will be $20.3 trillion — an increase of 171% in just 10 years.
By itself, such a sum wouldn't matter. But it's the weight it will place on the economy that's important. Last year, debt as a share of GDP — the recognized measure for how indebted a country is — stood at 53%. By 2020, it will be over 90%.
And that's not including the hundreds of billions of debts run up by Social Security and Medicare, which, technically, the government says it "owes to itself."