The Real Federal Debt

Geronimo!
Creative Commons License photo credit: TimothyJ

I’m so sick of this debt ceiling debate because it is all a ruse.  The federal debt, as defined by the debt sold by the U.S. Treasury, is only a small fraction of all the obligations that the federal government owes.  Thankfully, I just found this nifty debt clock (in the sidebar) from the good folks at the Institute for Truth in Accounting.  Here is how they derive their higher estimate:

The Institute’s Debt Clock is an estimate of the nation’s publicly-held federal debt, intergovernmental debt held by the various branches of the government, the unfunded obligations related to social insurance programs as well as the pensions and retirement benefits promised to military veterans and government workers.The debt represented by notes, bonds and bills are known to the penny and can be seen here.

Estimates of the unfunded portion of America’s obligations are not so precise.Unfunded obligations include Social Security, Medicare, pensions, etc, and the components of the estimate come from several agencies, the most important of which are from the Social Security Administration’s trustees.

Typically, the trustees make their actuarial estimate and release it on April 1st, each year.This figure represents the trustees’ best estimate of the demographic factors that will affect the receipts and payments that the system will pay for old age and medical benefits for the many Americans receiving benefits. This year, the trustees have deferred issuing their estimate because they want to have more time to calculate the effect of the new health care law.Their estimate must cover the next 75 years rather than the 10 years of taxes and the six years of benefits the Congress used to estimate reform’s costs.We expect that their estimate will be released  in June, at which time we will reset the Institute’s Debt Clock.

Click here for a more detailed explanation.

Watch it and weep . . .