In 2012, the U.S. will spend around $220 billion in net interest on its debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office — a figure that is expected to spiral ever higher in coming years.

Erskine Bowles, a co-chair of the president’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission known as “Simpson-Bowles,” has called the nation’s compound interest burden one of the biggest long-term challenges facing the United States.

“We’ll be spending over $1 trillion a year on interest by 2020. That’s $1 trillion we can’t spend to educate our kids or to replace our badly worn-out infrastructure,” said Bowles at a recent forum hosted by IHS Global Insight. “What makes it doubly bad is that trillion will be spent principally in Asia, because that’s where our debt is.”

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