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Blog

    It's Tough Out There for a Taxpayer

    05/19/2008

    So reports USA Today:

    Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That's nearly $500,000 per household.

    When obligations of state and local governments are added, the total rises to $61.7 trillion, or $531,472 per household. That is more than four times what Americans owe in personal debt such as mortgages.

    But guess what, these jaw-dropping figures aren't being reported accurately:

    "We're running deficits in the trillions of dollars, not the hundreds of billions of dollars we're being told," says Sheila Weinberg, chief executive of the Institute for Truth in Accounting of Chicago.

    The reason for the discrepancy: Accounting standards require corporations and state governments to count new financial obligations, even if the payments will be made later. The federal government doesn't follow that rule. Instead of counting lifetime benefits for programs such as Social Security, the government counts the cost of benefits for the current year.

    I suppose if I were costing every household in the country a half a million bucks, I wouldn't want to own up to it either.  It's figures like these that prove why entitlement reform --  and by that I mean seriously cutting costs --  is an absolute necessity for any fiscally responsible politician.