Thursday, November 13, 2008


Rep. Jim Cooper (TN) writing at HuffPo:
It is the Financial Report of the U.S. Government, issued by the U.S. Treasury and signed by Secretary Henry Paulson. It is the only official government document that uses audited, accrual accounting to describe America's financial position.

It is also one of Washington's best-kept secrets. Neither Bush nor Paulson has mentioned it publicly because it reveals national deficits and debts that are much larger than the public has been told. The media have unwittingly participated in the cover-up.

Last year's Report said that the true national debt or "fiscal gap" was not $4 trillion, or even $9 trillion, but $53 trillion. Understanding the difference between these numbers is vital. Does America have a bad cold, the flu, or is it cancer?

We owe $4 trillion if you don't count the $5 trillion that the federal government has already borrowed from the Social Security "trust fund." Many economists say that you don't need to count intra-governmental borrowing, and politicians love the smaller figure. But seniors will demand their full Social Security checks. To protect them, we must recognize that we have borrowed the full $9 trillion.

Even the $9 trillion figure is misleading if you add this year's bailouts and war expenses. The official U.S. debt ceiling was recently raised to $11.3 trillion. In addition, Medicare is facing a shortfall of $30 trillion that the usual Washington budgets fail to recognize. This, plus other entitlement program shortfalls, means that our true fiscal gap is $53 trillion.

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