Flashback: With March 2006 Debt Ceiling Hike NBC, CBS Noted $30,000/person Price Tag of Debt

During the current debt ceiling debate, have the media told you what your personal share of the national debt would be after the ceiling is hiked?

Yeah. I didn't think so.

But when it was a midterm election year in which Democrats thrashed President George W. Bush and the GOP on overspending, it was a different story.


On March 16, 2006, Barack Obama was in his second year as a freshman senator and denounced the Bush administration's request for a debt ceiling increase. The debt ceiling increase passed the Senate on a 52-48 vote.

Later that night, according to the Nexis database,  NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Russ Mitchell briefly mentioned the vote on  "Nightly News" and "Evening News," respectively.

Both anchors emphasized the $30,000 per capita cost of the national debt under the new limit:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And one more note on all this from Capitol Hill in Washington tonight where the Senate agreed to let the federal government borrow another $781 billion, and the House then promptly passed $91 billion in new spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for hurricane relief. The 52-to-48 vote in the Senate on that debt was along party lines, with three Republicans joining all the Democrats in opposing the bill that raised the ceiling on our national debt to nearly $9 trillion. That level, by the way, that level of debt, represents $30,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.


RUSS MITCHELL, anchor: Here's something to think about, Congress today raised the borrowing limit on the government's well-worn credit card to get this $9 trillion. Paying off that amount of debt would take $30,000 from every man, woman and child in America, in case you were wondering you can make that check payable to the United States Treasury.

For the record, Senate Democrats and President Obama are hoping to raise the debt ceiling to about $16.7 trillion. The 2010 Census counted 308,745,538 Americans, so that comes out to approximately $54,100 in debt for every man, woman, and child in America.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.