Visit my Post

That is a number almost too large to fathom, but many economists warn that it could have a very real impact on Americans' household finances.

Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the debt represents an urgent and growing concern in the wake of costly government initiatives such as the Bush tax cuts, the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Obama stimulus package. She cites five issues — higher interest rates, higher taxes, inflation, impact on foreign affairs and reduced flexibility in a crisis — as potential danger points.