This is only a Preview!

You must Publish this diary to make this visible to the public,
or click 'Edit Diary' to make further changes first.

Posting a Diary Entry

Daily Kos welcomes blog articles from readers, known as diaries. The Intro section to a diary should be about three paragraphs long, and is required. The body section is optional, as is the poll, which can have 1 to 15 choices. Descriptive tags are also required to help others find your diary by subject; please don't use "cute" tags.

When you're ready, scroll down below the tags and click Save & Preview. You can edit your diary after it's published by clicking Edit Diary. Polls cannot be edited once they are published.

If this is your first time creating a Diary since the Ajax upgrade, before you enter any text below, please press Ctrl-F5 and then hold down the Shift Key and press your browser's Reload button to refresh its cache with the new script files.


  1. One diary daily maximum.
  2. Substantive diaries only. If you don't have at least three solid, original paragraphs, you should probably post a comment in an Open Thread.
  3. No repetitive diaries. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged (you can search for Stories and Diaries that already cover this topic), though fresh original analysis is always welcome.
  4. Use the "Body" textbox if your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs.
  5. Any images in your posts must be hosted by an approved image hosting service (one of: imageshack.us, photobucket.com, flickr.com, smugmug.com, allyoucanupload.com, picturetrail.com, mac.com, webshots.com, editgrid.com).
  6. Copying and pasting entire copyrighted works is prohibited. If you do quote something, keep it brief, always provide a link to the original source, and use the <blockquote> tags to clearly identify the quoted material. Violating this rule is grounds for immediate banning.
  7. Be civil. Do not "call out" other users by name in diary titles. Do not use profanity in diary titles. Don't write diaries whose main purpose is to deliberately inflame.
For the complete list of DailyKos diary guidelines, please click here.

Please begin with an informative title:

First some definitional points.
Total Public Debt = Debt Subject to the Limit. Or more properly the two track precisely (Green and Blue lines in first figure).
Total Public Debt = Federal Debt = National Debt (as shown as topline number on the National Debt Clock) When you Google any or all of those terms you are likely to come up with the same $16.4 trillion.

With that settled I want to talk some policy implications below the fold, particularly as all this relates to Social Security and the Debt Limit.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

The second screen shot is from the Treasury's Debt to the Penny web application. This application tracks to the literal penny Total Public Debt and its components up to the close of books the last day but one, that is the most current data available today (Friday) is from the 2nd (Wednesday).

The first thing of note is that 'Total Public Debt' is simply the sum of 'Debt Held by the Public' and 'Intragovernmental Holdings' or roughly $11.6 trillion plus $4.8 trillion = $16.4 trillion. Now 'Intragovernmental Holdings' are mostly made up of assets of the nineteen or so Federal Trust Funds of which the largest are the two Social Security Trust Funds (OAS and DI, often tracked together as OASDI), Medicare Part A (HI) plus Federal Civil and Military Retirement Trust Funds. And specifically something more than half of that $4.8 trillion is made up of the $2.6 trillion combined in OASDI.

My appointment just showed up so I will have to take this up in comments later. But let me leave you with this. Any increase in net income to Social Security whether than comes in the form of cap increases (to increase revenue) or means testing or Chained-CPI (to reduce cost) has the result of increasing Trust Fund balances. Which means increasing the investment in Special Issue Treasuries. Which increases overall Intragovernmental Holdings. Which added to Debt Held by the Public increases Total Public Debt. Which adds to Debt Subject to the Limit.

Put that series of identities together and the fatuity of dragging Social Security into a discussion of raising the Debt Limit becomes apparent. To the extent that folk want to maintain the Debt Limit as is rather paradoxically the only way to have Social Security contribute to that is to pay down the Trust Fund. Which can only be done by decreasing FICA or increasing benefits. Which to say the least are not the policy options being put on the table.

It is not true to say that Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit or the debt. But as my previous post shows it currently serves to reduce the former and as this post shows any attempts to cut benefits actually increases the latter. So exactly why is it even on the agenda for the Debt Limit negotiations?

Extended (Optional)

Your Email has been sent.