|US debt after World War II. The government emerged from the war with debt exceeding 100 percent of GDP; because there was almost no international capital movement at the time, essentially all that debt was owned by domestic residents, with a sizable fraction consisting of savings bonds bought by individuals.
Now, here's the question: did that debt directly make America poorer? More specifically, did it force America as a whole to spend less than it would have if the debt hadn't existed?
The answer, clearly, is no. Yes, American taxpayers had to pay the interest on that debt. But who received that interest? American taxpayers.