The Real Federal Debt?

Federal Debt ChartFederal Debt is a scary topic that defies comprehension.  Just what is a trillion dollars anyway? I’ts awfully hard to wrap your head around

It’s even more ethereally depressing to come into information that would indicate the size of the federal debt is many times larger than what is generally reported, according to  But when you really look at at Federal obligations and promises, our debt is in fact far larger than the +/- 15 Trillion commonly bantered around.

Here’s a bit from CNBC on the topic.

Our REPORTED federal debt is $15.5 trillion. That includes $10.8 trillion in public debt…money used to run basic government operations … and $5 trillion in trust fund debt for things like highway work and airports.

The $15.5 trillion number is what gets thrown around most in political debate and coverage.

But there is a bunch of government spending commitments NOT included in that $15.5 trillion number. These include almost $6 trillion in expected retirement benefits for federal employees and veterans, $8 trillion in Social Security benefits that will come due, and the biggie…. $37 trillion in Medicare benefits.

Thanks to various government accounting rules, these numbers don’t get included in the main number until they actually come due. It strikes me that’s a little like only counting your car payment, rather than the whole car loan, as your debt load. But better minds than I come up with these rules.

We as a society will need to come to terms with this debt.  Government has long over-promised, and it may need to enter a prolonged phase of under-delivering to get back on even ground.

What do you think of the Federal debt load? Is it a time bomb, or is it manageable?

Written By

Bryan Anderson

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