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Visualizing the numbers in the debt ceiling deal

By Holly Yan, CNN
Stacked next to a house, a football field and the Statue of Liberty, the national debt, in $100 bills, would look something like this.
Stacked next to a house, a football field and the Statue of Liberty, the national debt, in $100 bills, would look something like this.
  • The current debt limit is $14.3 trillion, enough to buy 64,472,498 new houses
  • The deficit reduction amount in the agreement could pay off 224,299,065 credit cards
  • The president would have the power to raise the debt ceiling by $400 billion immediately

(CNN) -- The numbers getting tossed around in Washington during the debt ceiling negotiations can be mind-boggling.

Since the average American will never have, say, $14.3 trillion to wrap his or her mind around, here's how these numbers would stack up if translated into everyday life.


The United States currently has a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

With the median sale price of a new home in the United States last year at $221,800, that amount could buy 64,472,498 new houses -- one for every resident of California and Texas combined.


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The White House and congressional leaders reached an agreement Sunday on a proposal that could be voted on by both chambers of Congress on Monday. The deal includes $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.

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The average American household with at least one credit card carries almost $10,700 in credit-card debt, according to

So $2.4 trillion could pay off such a household's credit-card debt 224,299,065 times over.

$2,100,000,000,000 or $2,400,000,000,000

The agreement, if passed, would allow a total increase to the debt limit of up to $2.1 trillion or $2.4 trillion, depending on actions by a special joint congressional committee.

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What would $2.1 trillion look like? Lined up along the equator, the dollar bills would stretch around the world more than 8,172 times.


Because of a Tuesday deadline to reach a debt ceiling deal before the country risks an unprecedented default, the plan would allow President Barack Obama to have the power to immediately raise the debt ceiling by $400 billion, which would last through September.

The wealthiest American, Bill Gates, is worth $56 billion, according to Forbes magazine. The immediate debt ceiling increase would be akin to 7.14 times Gates' net worth.

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