The US government owes $10 trillion to third-party investors. This is the total of “privately held” debt as reported by the US Treasury. “Private” in this sense includes foreign governments. It means the $16.7 trillion in Treasury securities formally outstanding less the $6.7 trillion held by various parts of the government itself, such as the Federal Reserve. These are a consolidating elimination for the government viewed as a whole.
Of the $10 trillion the government owes to someone else, what percent is due to foreigners?
The answer: 56%. What was your estimate?
As of June, 2013, $5.6 trillion of the $10 trillion the government has borrowed from investors was owed to foreigners, and $4.4 trillion or 44% to US entities.
Whatever else may be said about these facts, the nostrum “we owe it to ourselves” does not apply.