The headline of a Post article on the decision to raise the debt ceiling told readers that the new limit was a "record." Of course every increase in the debt limit is a record. That is why the debt limit is raised, the debt is rising above its prior level. The first sentence continues the editorializing by telling readers that the debt is at a "historic high."
The only meaningful way to measure debt through time is relative to the size of the economy. The Congressional Budget Office projects that ratio of publicly held debt to GDP will be 60.3 percent at the end of fiscal 2010. By comparison, it was 108.6 percent at the end of 1946. Including the money owed to Social Security and other trust funds the ratio of debt to GDP would be 90.2 percent at the end of 2010. This compares to a ratio of total debt to GDP of 121.7 percent in 1946.
The claim of a record or historic high would be meaningful if the debt was at a record relative to GDP, but of course it isn't true. This is just another case of the Post using its news pages to complain about the deficit.
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