Shocking Facts About U.S. Government Debt

Every time I think I have finally gotten some real conception about the size of the debt mess our government has created over the last few decades, something comes along to prove me wrong. This time it was a post on the Economic Collapse Blog to which a few websites I regularly visit had linked.

I encourage you to read all 34 facts in the original post, but in case you are too lazy to click through, here are a couple of the craziest:

#4 According to Wikipedia, the monetary base “consists of coins, paper money (both as bank vault cash and as currency circulating in the public), and commercial banks’ reserves with the central bank.”  Currently the U.S. monetary base is sitting somewhere around 2.7 trillion dollars.  So if you went out and gathered all of that money up it would only make a small dent in our national debt.  But afterwards there would be no currency for anyone to use.

#5 The U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt during fiscal 2011.

#6 The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars.  The liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding.

#7 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

#24 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run outfive years faster than they were projecting just last year.

#26 If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.

The problem has gotten so bad that politicians do not even pretend to have an answer to it anymore. No presidential candidate except Ron Paul is proposing any serious action to address it.

And for anyone who thinks the problem is that Americans are not being taxed enough, there’s this problem:

#18 When you add up all spending by the federal government, state governments and local governments, it comes to 46.6% of GDP.

#19 Our nation is more addicted to government checks than ever before.  In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.

We need some major detox in this country.

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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2 Responses to Shocking Facts About U.S. Government Debt

  1. Ginger says:

    I like Ron Paul even if he a bit Barney Fife-ish. He’s a smart cookie, who knows what he’s talking about concerning nearly every issue. But in today’s dangerous world, we need a strong military. Nobody pushes the strong guy around.

    • Dr. J says:

      I’ve seen this argument before, and I confess I don’t understand it. Our military spending is more than the rest of the world’s combined. We could cut our military spending in half and still have by far the strongest military in te world. We would still be “the strong guy.” Under what scenario would this be different in a hypothetical Ron Paul presidency?

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