This is old news, but here are the latest figures.
Yet another of those telling inflection points in 1980. (With a brief respite in the late nineties.)
The red line--Gross Debt--is the scary (and actual) one; it includes loans from government trust funds (mainly Social Security) that will have to be repaid/made good on. We spent thirty years responsibly working it down after the war.
Thanks to the irresponsible voodoo magic of the Reagan Revolution, it's gone from 34% of GDP to nearly 70%. If it sounds too good to be true ("It's easy. All we have to do is cut taxes! And you'll like that, right? And vote for me?"), it is.
But let's zoom in:
The one encouraging thing? It looks like it's projected to decline!
Oh, wait--that's assuming that the Bush tax cuts are repealed.