Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt

If you meditate on these numbers a few minutes you’ll see just how incompetent most of the people are that we’ve been electing to federal office for a very long time. From the NCPA:

For years, the government has gotten by without having to produce the kind of financial statements that are required of most significant for-profit and nonprofit enterprises, say Chris Cox, a former chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Bill Archer, a former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

As a result, fiscal policy discussions generally focus on current-year budget deficits, the accumulated national debt, and the relationships between these two items and gross domestic product.

  • We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97 percent of GDP).
  • As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government’s true liabilities.
  • The actual liabilities of the federal government — including Social Security, Medicare and federal employees’ future retirement benefits — already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550 percent of GDP.
  • For the year ending December 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion.
  • In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure.

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