- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2017

The federal government racked up $318 billion in new debt Friday, putting it over the $20 trillion mark for the first time in U.S. history, according to new Treasury Department numbers.

The total outstanding federal public debt now stands at $20.162 trillion.

The spike came after Congress on Friday approved a new debt holiday, allowing the government to borrow as much as needed to keep the government open through early December. President Trump signed the bill, marking the first debt increase of his young administration.

Treasury officials had been bumping up against the debt limit for months, using extraordinary measures such as borrowing from other accounts to keep from breaching the limit, which stood at $19.8 trillion until last week’s change.

Now free from the debt ceiling, the government was able to begin borrowing again, racking up the $318 billion of debt in one day.

Conservative Republicans said the new $20 trillion mark was proof last week’s bill was a bum deal.

“Every man, woman and child in America now owns more than $61,000 in our debt,” said Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “We can do better. We must do better. Before Congress agrees to increase the debt limit again, it is imperative we pass new laws that will change this disturbing trend instead of ignoring the root cause of our nation’s debt problems.”

Monday marked the third-highest single-day debt increase in history. President Obama oversaw the two biggest days — a $339 billion surge in 2015 and a $328 billion leap in 2013.

The fourth-worst day was a $238 trillion jump in 2011.

Mr. Obama also holds the record for most debt accumulated during his tenure. Gross debt nearly doubled from $10.6 trillion in January 2009 to $19.9 trillion when he turned the reins over to Mr. Trump earlier this year.

Debt fell by about $100 billion in Mr. Trump’s early days — though all of that was erased last week.

Gross federal debt includes both debt held by the public and intergovernmental transfers. Debt held by the public stands at $14.6 trillion, while intergovernmental transfers total $5.5 trillion.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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