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National debt reaches new milestone - $18 trillion

The national debt has passed the $18 trillion mark, sparking renewed criticism Tuesday from Republicans and other fiscal conservatives over the soaring trajectory of government spending under President Obama.

“This is a sad milestone for America,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Tuesday.

The debt was at $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in 2009 but has increased by 70 percent during his roughly six years in office.

“The national debt has skyrocketed by over $7.3 trillion,” Priebus said. “President Obama once said it was ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘irresponsible’ to add $4 trillion to the debt. By his own reasoning then, (he) has reached a new level of irresponsibility.”

The federal debt, which topped $18 trillion last week, is the sum of two numbers.

The first is $12.92 trillion in public debt, which consists of all the outstanding Treasury bills, notes and bonds held by individuals, corporations, foreign governments and others.

The second is the $5.08 trillion in so-called “intra-governmental” holdings, special securities held by U.S. government trust funds and special funds – or basically IOUs from the federal government for money that it “borrowed” from Social Security and Medicare.

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Is there anything we can do to keep this massive burden from the shoulders of our children and grandchildren? Yes.

The Founders knew this might happen, which is why they included the Convention of States option in Article V of the Constitution. A Convention of States allows the people -- acting through their state legislators -- to place real, enforceable spending limits on the federal government.

Click here to learn more.