RELEASE: Wicker Questions Fed Chief Yellen on National Debt

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen about rising concerns related to the nation’s $17 trillion debt and the alarming portion of U.S. bonds being held by foreign governments, such as China and Japan.

Wicker comments came during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the outlook of future U.S. economic and fiscal policy.

“We have a national debt of $17 trillion,” Wicker told Yellen. “With regard to foreign debt, some 70 percent of it is held by governments, and 30 percent is attributed to private foreign investors. In total, China holds $1.3 trillion of our debt and Japan at $1.2 trillion. Do you worry about the $17 trillion debt? Should we be concerned with the fact that the Chinese and Japanese own so much of this debt?”

Yellen responded, “I worry about the long-term path of the debt and whether or not it is sustainable.”

Wicker next noted that if interest rates rise as most expect, then payments on the national debt could double in the next ten years from $227 billion in FY2014 to more than $500 billion.

Yellen agreed by saying, “(Payments) would certainly go up.”

Today’s exchange is the second time this week that Wicker and Yellen have discussed economic and fiscal policy. During a Joint Economic Committee hearing yesterday, Wicker questioned Yellen about the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program and whether policies by the Central Bank and Obama Administration have contributed to income inequality.