Federal Liabilities Now Equal $175,000 for Every American

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Deficit spending and promised benefits for federal entitlement programs have put every man, woman, and child in the United States on the hook for $175,000, says a new report by David Walker, comptroller general of the United States.

On Tuesday, Walker sent the results of his audit of the federal debt to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The audit revealed that, as of Sept. 30, the last day of fiscal year 2007, the U.S. government owed $8.993 trillion.

Of this nearly $9 trillion in debt, $5.049 trillion is in the form of Treasury securities held by the public, while the other $3.944 trillion is in the form of loans made to the Treasury from "surpluses" in the trust funds of federal entitlement programs, including the Social Security, Medicare, military retirement, and civic service retirement programs.

In addition to this debt, which represents money the federal government has already spent, the government also faces a gap between the projected revenue expected from the current tax structure and the spending that will be required to cover promised benefits in Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Administration and other entitlement programs.

"If these items are factored in," Walker said in his report, "the total burden in present value dollars is estimated to be about $53 trillion. Stated differently, the estimated current total burden for every American is nearly $175,000; and every day that burden becomes larger."

Of the $5.049 trillion in debt currently held by the public, $2.22 trillion is held by foreign investors, Walker calculated. "[T]o service this foreign-held debt," Walker said, "the U.S. government must send interest payments abroad, which adds to the incomes of residents in other countries rather than to the incomes of U.S. residents."

In fiscal 2007, the federal government owed $433 billion in interest on the money it had already borrowed and spent. Of this $433 billion, $239 billion was paid in interest on Treasury bonds, and the other $194 billion was added, on paper, to the money that the Treasury already owes to the entitlement program trust funds.

Over 25 years, the federal debt grew almost eight-fold, from $1.142 trillion in 1982 to $8.993 trillion in 2007.

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