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The United States spends about $230 billion a year in finance payments to creditors—a level that could more than double if interest rates returned to more normal levels, anti-debt crusader Erskine Bowles warned on Monday.
To put $230 billion a year in perspective, Bowles said on CNBC's "Squawk Box, " it's more than the U.S. spends at the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, State and the court system combined.
(Read more: )
"If interest rates were to return to a median level they were in the 1990s, we'd be spending not $230 billion a year but $650 billion a year," the former co-chair of the president's debt commission said.
"When you think about it, that's $650 billion that will be spent, principally in those countries we're borrowing money from, to educate their kids, to improve their infrastructure, to do the high value-added research on their college campuses, so the next new thing is created over there," Bowles said. "That's crazy."
He also said, "You're not going to have great [economic] growth until we reform our tax code to make us more globally competitive."
(Read more: Obama clashes with Fox News over record)
Bowles was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff from 1997 to 1998. In 2010, he was Democratic co-chair of President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Republican former Sen. Alan K. Simpson. Last week, he was named lead director of Morgan Stanley.