Public Debt

As of today, the total national debt is $9,405,738,960,230.52 (that’s about $9.4 trillion for those not used to 13-digit numbers). I know this because the debt is published, to the penny, every day at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np.  Thanks to that site, I also know that the national debt on January 20, 2001 was $5,727,776,738,304.64.  I know, therefore, that in a little over seven years our federal government has managed to spend nearly $4 trillion more than it brought in in tax revenue.  That is an incredible fact, known to far too few Americans.

I also know that the federal government paid about $430 billion in interest on the national debt in 2007.   So far in fiscal year 2008, the amount spent to pay interest on the debt is approaching $250 billion.  In fact, nearly 10% of the tax revenue collected by the federal government goes just to pay the interest on the debt.  Twenty-five percent of the federal debt is owed to foreign countries or nationals.  So, 25% of the interest payments our government makes on the money it has borrowed are to persons or governments outside the U.S.  These almost incredible facts are unknown to most Americans.

The federal debt is so enormous that it is hard to conceive of any possibilty that it could ever be repaid.  The sad truth is that its hard to imagine that the future holds in store anything other than greater and greater tax burdens, to pay ever-increasing interest on the ever-increasing debt.

But, wait!  There’s more…

Unfortunately, the public debt on the books is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  The government does not accrue the unfunded liabilities associated with future entitlement commitments.  (Any private accountant who kept books this way would lose his license, and probably go to jail.)  When those liabilities are taken into account, the frightening magnitude of the crisis facing our country is revealed.

The unfunded (meaning, the money ain’t there) liability for Medicare, Social Security and federal retirement programs such as military pensions, is approximately $99 Trillion.  That is not a typo.  These obligations, to which our elected representatives have agreed on our behalf, will be simply impossible to meet absent nearly unimaginable levels of taxation, or a systematic debasement of the currency.

David Walker has served as Comptroller General of the United States for the past ten years.  During his tenure, he has tired desperately to draw the public’s attention to this fiscal crisis.  Politicians, of course, have avoided him like the plague.  The truth he speaks simply interfered with their election promises.  Finally, in frustration, Mr. Walker resigned on March 12 of this year, to devote his time fully to trying to educate Americans on this impending meltdown.

Here is a video (in two parts) he made while still Comptroller General, which should be required viewing for every American:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIgrxpp97OQ&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXr_Ga_n0pY&feature=related

I cannot urge y’all enough to watch the Walker videos.

Now get this–those videos are a couple of years old.  The situation is actually considerably worse now than it was then.

More tomorrow….

Grace and Peace

 

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