Not only is the mounting U.S. debt causing anxiety at home, one Democratic senator tells ABC News that a group of senators faced an embarrassing reprimand by a Chinese official on a recent Congressional delegation to Asia.
"The most embarrassing moment to me on that trip was when a government official said to me, or said the to the delegation, you guys need to get your fiscal house in order," Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said of an April congressional delegation to China that was led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "I felt like being at a shareholder meeting for a corporation and the shareholder is saying you're being irresponsible."
China now owns $1.2 trillion of the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt, according to the Treasury Department.
"Not only do they own a bunch of our debt, but they have a cash surplus which they're using to invest in infrastructure and in natural resources all over the globe," Bennet said. "That's what we are increasingly incapable of doing unless we get this resolved."
Embarrassing or not, Bennet agrees with the Chinese on this issue: The United States needs to act now to get mounting deficits under control.
"If we can't come up with a deal this year, you know as well as I do that we're not going to come up with a deal next year," Bennet said, referencing the upcoming presidential race. "If you ask me what are the chances that the capital markets, the guys that own the debt that we have sold them, come to the conclusion that we're not serious about the fiscal problem, I would say it would be a catastrophe."
Bennet, who was elected last November to a full term in the Senate after being appointed in 2009 to fill the seat Ken Salazar vacated when he was named secretary of the interior, says his hopes are with the bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators who have been attempting to craft a deal to get the budget closer to balance.
But with little support from the White House or from either the Republican or Democratic Congressional leadership, the Gang of Six is considered by many in Washington to be all-but dead.
"It's not dead," Bennet said. "I think, in fact, I would say it has some of the most promise we have. [The stakes] are very high."
Bennet says for his part as long as the Gang produces a plan he can "sink his teeth" into he'll be the first one to support it.