National Debt Hits $9 Trillion For The First Time

In a quiet office at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, economist Dr. Cinzia Balit Moussalli is fully aware the national debt has reached a milestone. $9 trillion dollars, in fact, but don't think Moussalli is losing sleep over it.

"We only need to be concerned if the world loses its trust in the United States, and as long as we can keep financing the debt," said Dr. Moussalli.

But that's where the potential problem lies. The U.S. government is paying $400 billion a year just to finance the debt.

"We owe a lot of people a lot of money," said AUM economist Dr. Keivan Deravi.

Deravi is a well-known economist in the River Region and he says it isn't the overall debt that worries him.

"My problem is there seems to be no sight in bringing the debt under control," Deravi said.

Moussalli adds "the history of the U.S. has always had huge debts."

That's true so how did America get to this point. Deravi says it really started snowballing during the Great Depression.

"We needed a shot in the arm, something to pull us out of the Great Depression, so we started borrowing money," said Deravi.

Then came World War 2, the Korean War, Vietnam, a very expensive Cold War, 9-11, hurricanes, social security and federal entitlement spending issues. On top of that:

"We are fighting a war in the Middle East that's cost about $100 billion we don't have," Deravi said.

"It's a self-discipline issue," said Moussalli.

Many blame Congress for out of control spending and the President for cutting taxes too much, too soon. In a lengthy statement to WSFA 12 News, Republican Congressman Terry Everett of Alabama says he 'opposed efforts in Congress to dramatically increase federal spending,' and he claims, 'the President's tax relief plans have actually increased federal revenues.

On the Democratic side, WSFA 12 News tried to get a response from Congressman Arthur Davis but was told he was in the air flying home to Alabama from Washington, D.C.

Opinions vary as to who is the blame, but both economists say, in the end, numbers don't lie. Somewhere down the road someone has to pay.

"My generation is sailing through the problem. The next generation will have problems," Deravi predicts in the form of higher taxes.

"We have to cut federal spending," Moussalli.

More history on the federal debt. In 1865, the national debt was $2 Billion dollars. In 1988 it was $2.6 Trillion, according to a federal government website.