It is difficult to grasp the extent of our debt.
But it is also difficult to grasp the size of our economy and the size of our collective national wealth.
I can't fathom $12 trillion in debt, but I also can't fathom $14 trillion in economic activity. And I certainly can't fathom the nearly $60 trillion that we collectively own beyond our own personal debts in this country.
The reality is that "paying off" the debt is not the goal. The goal is to grow the economy so that the debt becomes a much smaller percentage when compared to the total national economy.
This was why the Clinton years were so great. The economy grew fast and the increase of the debt was essentially held to zero. So, in percentage terms, the national debt decreased. The 1950s building boom accomplished the same goal. Economic growth essentially paid off World War II.