Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

Greedy Business PartnersRarely do politicians invoke the national debt without prefacing it by an ominous adjective like “crushing” or “unconscionable.” Even President Obama once called it “unpatriotic.”

But in Parkersburg, W.Va., the debt has no adjectives. Only decimal places.

More than 1,800 federal employees work at the Bureau of the Public Debt in Parkersburg, responsible for managing, selling and accounting for the more than $17 trillion that U.S. taxpayers owe to themselves, to Social Security, and to foreign investors.

“Say what you want about the amount of debt. It’s good, it’s bad, whatever,” says Assistant Commissioner Matthew Miller, who oversees the Office of Public Debt Accounting. “But rest assured, it’s accounted for every day.”

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