It will be the latest sobering economic milestone that few were hoping to see: The U.S. national debt â€“ any day now â€“ will soar above the $15 trillion mark.
As of this writing, the total debt is $14.97 trillion, so moving beyond the symbolic $15 trillion is a foregone conclusion. When the unwelcome milestone is reached, it will come at a volatile time both in this country and abroad.
Across the Atlantic, President Obama is in Cannes, France, for the G-20 summit that takes place as Europe is trying to finalize a bailout for debt-ridden Greece.
Back on the home front, Obama is preparing for a difficult re-election fight next year. Republican candidates from Mitt Romney to Herman Cain have pounced on the countryâ€™s economic woes in their bids to win the GOP nomination and the chance to oppose Obama. Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street protests directed at the nationâ€™s financial inequalities continue to rage across the country.
In Washington, a polarized Congress has ground to a halt in the dispute on how to jumpstart the economy and reduce the countryâ€™s deficits. Only a few months ago, the acrimonious debate on Capitol Hill about raising the debt ceiling â€“ a debate that almost caused the Treasury Department to default on its debts â€“ illustrated the enormous partisan divide that still shows no signs of improving.
The approaching $15 trillion debt milestone is not even the only piece of bad economic news for the country. The jobs report for October â€“ released this morning â€“ showed that U.S. employers added an estimated 80,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, worse than economists expected. The unemployment rate decreased to 9.0 percent, down from 9.1 percent a month earlier, small consolation for a nation still struggling to recover from a severe recession.