Wednesday, April 21, 2021

America's true national debt?

How big is the US national debt?  Mind you, this is different from the national deficit, which is a year-on-year figure.  The debt refers to the nation's total accumulated debt.  Many sources will give you a figure of 20-something trillion dollars.  A few years ago, the number was around $22 trillion—a debt inherited and added to by successive administrations.  These days, partly thanks to the massive economic shutdown caused by the US's incompetent reaction to the current pandemic, that number has ballooned to $28 trillion.

But according to a nonprofit firm called TIA (Truth in Accounting, not transient ischemic attack), the actual figure for the US's national debt is—get this—around $123 trillion.  That's four to five times the usual estimate, which is already colossal.  Per this Epoch Times article, the US's true national debt subdivides into a debt of almost $800,000 per taxpayer.  (I assume the term "taxpayer" therefore excludes people too young to be in the active workforce.  I further assume that retired seniors, despite not working, do pay their taxes.)  Here's an excerpt:

America’s national debt now exceeds $123 trillion, according to a new report, or more than four times the official figure of $28 trillion, as calculated by the U.S. Treasury Department at the end of March.

Federal spending related to the CCP virus pandemic and economic lockdown added nearly $10 trillion to the total in 2020, according to the latest edition of the “Financial State of the Union 2021” report, compiled and published annually by Chicago-based nonprofit Truth in Accounting (TIA).

But spending amid the pandemic represents only a small portion of the total difference between the official government figure and TIA’s calculation.

“Our measure of the government’s financial condition includes reported federal assets and liabilities, as well as promised, but not funded, Social Security and Medicare benefits,” the report stated.

“Elected and non-elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the federal government with a debt burden of $123.11 trillion, including unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises.”

The TIA report includes in its total debt calculation $55.12 trillion in unfunded Medicare benefits and $41.20 trillion in unfunded Social Security benefits.

Treasury officials don’t include unfunded benefits because they claim recipients have no right to future payments, only to those under current entitlement laws.

The total debt, according to the report, “equates to a $796,000 burden for every federal taxpayer. Because the federal government would need such a vast amount of money from taxpayers to cover this debt, it received an ‘F’ grade for its financial condition.”

Some people assert that "debt is what drives a healthy economy."  What nonsense.  I don't buy into that.  The golden rule is Don't spend beyond your means, and unfortunately, the US is way past the point of no return in its heedless drive to deficit-spend the money of future generations.  What can be done to pare down this debt?  Anything?

1 comment:

John Mac said...

This retired senior still pays his taxes. Of course, since I'm living on a government pension, I'm part of the debt problem.

"Treasury officials don’t include unfunded benefits because they claim recipients have no right to future payments, only to those under current entitlement laws."

That's scary stuff. Seems to be saying, "you didn't earn that pension you worked 35 years to receive and have no right to keep it--we can cut you off whenever we choose." I guess my future is as secure as the US government. Yikes, that's scary too!

I wouldn't be surprised to see the USA go the Venezuela route--it's what socialist economies do--devalue the dollar to where it is worth next to nothing and that 123 trillion is meaningless.

So far the exchange rates here in the PI are holding steady (the peso is surprisingly strong given the wreckage of the economy by idiot COVID policies) so we'll see--will I die of old age or starvation?