In the time it takes you to read this story, the U.S. debt will have grown by about $4.4. million.

The debt is now lurking just under the $16 trillion mark — a number huge enough to be almost incomprehensible to the layperson. One way to visualize its magnitude: If you were to spend a dollar every second, it would take you 32,000 years to spend $1 trillion, or a mere one-16th of the debt.

“The national debt is certainly a ticking time bomb. There’s no question that if we don’t do something about it, it’s going to go off,” says Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition.

Bixby, like most economists, thinks there comes a point when the debt becomes unsustainable — when interest payments on the debt alone create an economic implosion.

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