For years, ordinary U.S. citizens have sent checks, cash and even gold coins to help the government pay its bills. But despite what Americans have been given to believe, the contributions private citizens make to government coffers in hopes of helping to pay down the federal debt aren't used for that purpose.
Instead, the government deposits them in the Treasury Department's general fund, in essence the government's main checking account.
Donors receive a letter of thanks that reads, “Your contribution will help ensure that we do not burden future generations with a huge debt” but lists no specifics as to how the money will be used.
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"The gifts go toward funding the federal government, not to pay off the debt," Mckayla Braden, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of the Public Debt, told The Fiscal Times.
“I love my country. I don’t want it in debt like this. I don’t want it having a financial crisis,” said Jane Olive, a retired teacher in Las Vegas who recently sent the government $100.
Federal records show that such donations have totaled more than $81 million since President John. F. Kennedy signed the law into effect in June 1961.
The gifts are tax-deductible and can be submitted electronically or by mail to P.O. Box 2188 in Parkersburg, West Virginia, which is maintained by the Bureau of the Public Debt’s Parkersburg office.
According to The Deseret News, as of Sept. 30, 2010, the outstanding U.S. debt was $13,562 billion.
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