MERRY CHRISTMAS!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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Saturday, December 01, 2012

OUR DEBT IS NOT 16 TRILLION

Chris Cox and Bill archer pointed out in a Wall Street Journal article on
November 27th that our government has not been including Social
Security and Medicare liabilities when computing our national debt.
“The actual liabilities of the federal government—including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits—already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure.”

“Why haven't Americans heard about the titanic $86.8 trillion liability from these programs? One reason: The actual figures do not appear in black and white on any balance sheet. But it is possible to discover them. Included in the annual Medicare Trustees' report are separate actuarial estimates of the unfunded liability for Medicare Part A (the hospital portion), Part B (medical insurance) and Part D (prescription drug coverage).

“As of the most recent Trustees' report in April, the net present value of the unfunded liability of Medicare was $42.8 trillion. The comparable balance sheet liability for Social Security is $20.5 trillion. The realworld impact will be felt when currently unfunded liabilities need to be paid. In theory, the Medicare and Social Security trust funds have at least some money to pay a portion of the bills that are coming due. In actuality, the cupboard is bare: 100% of the payroll taxes for these programs was spent in the same year they were collected.

“In exchange for the payroll taxes that aren't paid out in benefits to current retirees in any given year, the trust funds got nonmarketable Treasury debt. Now, as the baby boomers' promised benefits swamp the payroll-tax collections from today's workers, the government has to swap the trust funds' nonmarketable securities for marketable Treasury debt. The Treasury will then have to sell not only this debt, but far more, in order to pay the benefits as they come due. “
Mr. Cox, a former chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee
and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is president of Bingham
Consulting LLC. Mr. Archer, a former chairman of the House Ways &
Means Committee, is a senior policy adviser at
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.


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