• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Federal Government's Debt, Unfunded Obligations Grew Rapidly Last Year

    According to a new analysis from USA Today, American households are now on the hook for $534,000 to pay for the county’s debt and the unfunded obligations, or excess costs, for programs like Social Security and Medicare.

    USA Today reveals the eye-popping numbers for the federal government’s mounting fiscal problems. A staggering $5.3 trillion was added to the government’s tab last year, putting the overall figure at an astonishing $61.6 trillion.

    The report offers fresh evidence that the time to act is now. Entitlement programs, in particular, are driving the debt crisis, despite what some in Congress and the White House would have you believe.

    USA Today puts the increase for Medicare at $1.8 trillion. Social Security wasn’t far behind with $1.4 trillion increase.

    When the $61.6 trillion is broken down per household, that equals $534,000 — a figure “more than five times what Americans have borrowed for everything else,” according to USA Today. By program, it looks like this:

    • Medicare: $24.8 trillion
    • Social Security: $21.4 trillion
    • Federal debt: $9.4 trillion
    • Military retirement/disability benefits: $3.6 trillion
    • Federal employee retirement benefits: $2 trillion
    • State, local government obligations: $5.2 trillion

    Despite the heated political rhetoric about programs like Medicare, the reality is that Washington can’t ignore the problem. Heritage’s new plan, Saving the American Dream, presents a path forward for fixing the debt, cutting spending and restoring prosperity.

    New polling out today suggests America is seeking leadership on these issues. President Obama fairs poorly in the Washington Post-ABC News poll, getting negative marks from six in 10 on the deficit and economy.

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Federal Government's Debt, Unfunded Obligations Grew Rapidly Last Year

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Total net worth in the US was $55 Trillion in 2009. This was down from the peak of $65 Trillion in 2007 – when the democrats took over congress. With the news we have been getting lately this number is likely to be even lower today.


      Total unfunded liabilities – including federal worker pensions, social security and other liabilities from the federal and state governments TOTALS $61 trillion. The federal workforce’s responsibility to that is a staggering $56 trillion. Even if congress and the federal workers conducted the greediest grab of our wealth ever to occur on the and took every ounce of wealth available, there would still not be enough to fill the void – at the federal level no less the states. The required grab of wealth will make all aggregate corporate corruption a speck of dust in a ballroom. How many corporate criminals have been thrown in jail for their deeds and for good reason? Yet these guys get away with it and still reek the benefits of these lucrative federal jobs which are also mostly unfunded. This is a run-away disaster.

      We need razor sharp accountability on this. Pensions need to be axed! There will NEVER be cash available to pay that bill. Entitlements need careful hacking. We need to set priorities NOW. The elderly and seriously disabled people are the only people who will not be able to fend for themselves. Everyone else will need to seek alternatives. Congress members who voted for all the legislation and federal workers who crafted the framework for this incompetence needs to be brought up to hearings. Who are watching these goons?

      A bad law that is mostly unfunded is a domestic “enemy” or threat to the constitution. To this scale we are under attack by greed, deceit, personal and “special” interest and theft. This attack in cost is many times larger than the cost of all our wars combined! How many congress members gave an oath to protect the constitution against all enemies, both DOMESTIC and foreign. They are the authors of these domestic nemesis’ that attack the constitution daily. Federal workers also gave a similar oath to protect the constitution against the same enemies. Where are they?

      Greece raised its debt ceiling and its collapse only accelerated. Please start honoring your oath. Stop the madness before IT stops this country! We can structurally get out of this but it will take a love for country – similar to what our soldiers have – to get this under control. Our soldiers sacrifice their LIVES so that we persist. I think the federal workforce can sacrifice their numbers; their surplus salary and their bloated pensions to start the ball rolling. Then we need level heads (not the same goons that have made this mess) in DC to restructure these programs to prevent a collapse.

      For all the people who like to drink the government's Kool-Aid, here is your poison:

      •Medicare: $24.8 trillion

      •Social Security: $21.4 trillion

      •Federal debt: $9.4 trillion

      •Military retirement/disability benefits: $3.6 trillion

      •Federal employee retirement benefits: $2 trillion

      •State, local government obligations: $5.2 trillion

      At the very best, this is criminal negligence. If we did not have the money why create the spending? Now for you congress members and federal workers, what are you going to tell these recipients? These were your promises – not mine. We the people have been voting against this behavior since 2006! Yet this year we added over $5 trillion to the mess – the largest increase ever! They say my responsibility is $534,000 (half a million) – Well I disagree! I was not in those predecisional meetings where this insanity started! I do not have that – nor will I ever have that money. I have my own debt problems. This money does not exist nor will it ever exist. You all in DC have some 'splainin' to do!

      I really think it is time for some investigations and prosecutions! This fraud is more than 1000 times the corruption of Enron, WorldCom and Madoff put together! What scares me is that this is the same government that is proposing the Ryan Plan. A plan that WILL further this behavior by putting America deeper into debt by another trillion dollars in FY2012! There is no one in DC looking out for the future of this country!

    2. Ken, Oregon says:

      I would like to see a split between Medicare and Medicaid. I do NOT view Medicare as an entitlement as I paid into it for over 41 years. Now it is time for to "claim my benefit". I view that as being different from deadbeats who want some kind of free major medical support while they are still young and healthy enough to buy major medical coverage with their current income, but are too cheap to go out and buy it. There is a huge difference.


    3. George Colgrove, VA says:

      The daily cost of doing nothing:

      Today the debt will increases by another $4 billion.

      Typical interest over time of US debt is 4%.

      Initial debt service costs of this DAILY debt increase is $13.33 million.

      If paid back in 40 years, the total debt service cost will start to exceed the principal.

      Every week we do nothing, the debt service costs goes up $93.33 million.

      Every month we do nothing, the debt service costs go up $405.6 million.

      Every quarter we do nothing, the debt service costs go up $1.217 billion.

      Every year we do nothing, the debt service costs go up $4.867 billion.

      This is the cost of doing nothing. There is absolutely no bennefit of this expendature. It is like we got a really big room and dumped 48.76 million $100 bills on the floor and torched the place!

      Since Boehner started this session of congress with the whack of the gavel, we have done nothing.

      They want to increase their virtual money supply. Why?

      Just looking at today. The federal workforce and congress will put us into debt by another $4 billion because they are DOING NOTHING – just today! This criminal neglect, will cost us an additional $13 million every year we continue to maintain this extremely high debt – from only today's stupidity. Tomorrow we start it all over again with yet another $13 million perpetual costs.

      Investment firms are threatening to lower the outlook of our debt. Imagine when our debt reaches junk status!

      Enough yet?

    4. Mark Harrod (NC) says:

      Note to George Colgrove:

      George … I've been reading and enjoying your posts for quite some time now, and I must say that you're always spot-on with your insights, reasoning, and excellent communication skills.

      I don't know what you do for a living, but have you ever considered running for a government office? We desperately need your clear thinking and sensible solutions to be heard by a much wider audience than those of us who enjoy The Foundry.

      Keep up the excellent work, Sir!

    5. Pingback: Why Isn’t the National Debt a Sexy Story? | The Foundry

    6. Bobbie says:

      Totally agree with Mark!

    7. Steve S. California says:

      Well, Ken, I agree with you. Same for social security. I’ve paid into it for 45 years, not by choice. The least the liars club could do is be honest before they take it, which they will. The last few years have seen the greatest theft of wealth to ever occur in history, done by our own to us. This process is deliberate, and will destroy us as a nation if we don’t take action. The reason the events unfolding don’t make sense to us is because that is the design. The economic policies now in place can have only one result, the economic collapse of this country, and the intended result: an omnipotent government with a measure of power over the people which was never intended by the founding fathers. Greed, avarice, arrogance and the spleen of the entitled will have disastrous consequences for us all. We will join, because of it, the pile of carcasses of failed socialist states which litter the halls of history. When all of the economists are saying the same thing [no, the gov’t pundits and morons like Bernanke (I really am being nice) do not fit that description] it’s time to take notice, AND action.

      Railing against the machine is not enough, George, and it seems that that is where you are stuck. Personal involvement as citizens is a must, and nobody gets a pass on that one. Folks just think they do. They will find out the hard way the error of that assumption. It is not the responsibility of one group, but all who really care. Every last one of us is responsible for this mess in one way or another. Citizenship itself comes with responsibility. If we’re not involved at the grassroots level, this will not change and we will all face our dismal fate together. As Plato said “the price one pays for not getting involved in politics is being ruled by one’s inferiors”. That is quite apropos now. Are you politically active? When’s the last time you spoke to your representative, or wrote to them, or walked through their front door? Do you have a plan to work up to the next election?

      I have questions (George):

      If you take military retirement/disability money (you did put it on your list), how will you retain military (career must be considered). Will you return to the draft? What happened to your professed appreciation of our sacrifices?

      How many social security recipients are dependent on that income for survival? What becomes of them? Remember, anything which congress mandated that we participate in and we paid into all our working lives is NOT an entitlement. That’s just a convenient (and dishonest) way for those in power to explain away our wealth that they are stealing. (Actually, that happened when they took social security out of trust. The program wasn’t inherently evil, just the folks who couldn’t keep their damn hands off our money. Where are they now?) Every one of the worthless 435 who espouses that line of garbage needs a pink slip.

      “Federal workers also gave a similar oath to protect the constitution against the same enemies. Where are they?” I’m curious; do you mean the ones in harm’s way? Do you mean the ones fighting the system and trying to survive like you? In answer to your question, we are right here, fighting the good fight.

      It sounds like you think folks who haven’t given the oath get a pass, and don’t have the same level of responsibility. This is not a rhetorical statement. Are you willing to give your life to save this country? Or are you leaving that up to the rest of us who have written the blank check? What if it comes to that? What are YOU willing to do, besides posting here?

      I also have suggestions:

      One thing must happen for any change to occur. We must somehow change the type of people in our federal government and the process for selection to send them there. I propose that all of the 435 take a pay cut. Initial rate? How about what a Staff sergeant makes, no combat pay or Family sep allowances. NO outside income. Don’t worry; base housing, the commissary and Blue goose (Gov’t bus) will take care of your needs. 50% cut in office operating funds. No more Pelosi air lines. You fly like you put on your pants, just like us. Oh, and your retirement pay is over. 2 terms MAX, NO EXCEPTIONS. Then go home and back to work. Strip judicial of all legislative power, restore checks and balances, with aforementioned rotating pool of civilians. Mandatory service, lose any entitlements you might have if you violate. Mandatory drug testing for all 435. Also welfare recipients. I’ve been subject (still am) for 35 years just to keep my job. My privacy has not been injured one little bit. No more unarresting by DC Police. Won’t blow? Home you go. (Idea here is that they SHOULD be held to a higher standard.

      The folks in the CSFZ who have the right idea are too few in number to achieve any real gains. That’s our fault. And still folks would rather vote for their American Idol than their reps and Presidents.

      Shoot two DOEs in the head. (Dept of Education and Energy). They gum up the works for everyone, no value added, financial equivalents of black holes.

      Kill state dept funding immediately (we can’t afford to renovate mosques and pay to rehab sewers in Cairo). Never mind funding HAMAS et al.

      The vetting process needs overhauled. Ever notice how many crooks inhabit the common sense free zone called D.C? The process doesn’t work. Draw a civilian pool, just like jury duty, to vet ALL judicial, exec, all of them.

      So my point is, it’s easy to get stuck in that rut, even with valid criticism, that takes you no where. Widen the focus, pick you strategy and ACT. It simply isn’t enough anymore to just cry foul.

      P.S. you might want to go back to the posts of a few days ago. Executive branch?

    8. George Colgrove, VA says:

      @Steve –

      I appreciate your comments and want to ensure you that I do not view the solders as federal workers in the way I define them.

      I would say that there is an inverse relationship with soldiers and federal workers. From what I see there are far more solders in the fight for the USA than not; whereas the opposite is true for federal workers. I have a very narrow definition of what I consider virtuous. The oath of office is very absolute.

      I consider the national debt a domestic enemy. I consider the $61 trillion in unfunded liabilities as a domestic enemy. I consider deficit spending as a domestic enemy. All of this can, and is weakening this country. Now I do believe there are needs for small amounts of deficit spending at times for addressing natural disasters.

      For military actions, deficit spending may be allowed with a very narrow scope. Theory should have it that military deficit spending should not include hiring federal workers or adding programs – which is what happened over the last 10 years. It should not be used for the addition of new weapons systems, which also happened in the last 10 years. It should not be used for building elaborate buildings. This funding should be limited to supplemental danger pay, wartime healthcare for war caused injuries, mobilization, armament replacement priced under a transparent competitive retainer contract scheme, equipment maintenance above and beyond normal wear and tear. It should be used to help pay for mobilizing the National Guard and paying wages/temporary benefits/healthcare for mobilized National Guard soldiers. Military related deficit spending should be limited to one year, then either the conflict is funded or we end the engagement.

      In any event, a deficit should be paid back ASAP – last in First out. Normal Operating Military spending should be 100% funded and part of a balanced federal budget for national security purposes. A discretionary spending budget that is funded with only 43% cash (as we have right now) is dangerous and shows poor management at the federal level.

      Now you said, that I proposed that we cut military pay and benefits. That’s wrong. Adm Mike Mullen suggested that in remarks he made recently. I just listed what the proposed cuts were to date. I would advocate we raise soldier pay. A 12 year Navy Seal Team 6 member gets about $55K a year or $5K below the public sector average and $68K lower than the average federal worker.

      Your list of solutions made me tingle. I agree with all of them. The more ideas to cut the better.

      But please know, I am doing in action what I can. I reported my concerns with the 2005 BRAC project to the GAO in a complaint. I spelled out all of what I wrote in this site and more from my other research. I was informed that is not what they are there for and they forwarded the complaint to the DoD IG office for which I was told it did not raise to the level for an investigation. I write my congress members as well as others, and I write to the Speaker. I have sent complaints to the White House. I have offered ideas on how to fix the oil spill and so many other issues.

      Lastly, engaging in public discourse is the primary act of citizenship. So I do not feel stuck as you put it. I speak here because Heritage is one of few organizations that conservative policy makers read. I feel Heritage is a primary place for us to be heard. So in this case, what we do here is rapid action participation. I have heard policy makers say things that were said by users here! It is an effective place for participation.

    9. Pingback: Boy, am I stuffed…Daily Dive 9 June 11 | adeliemanchot

    10. Pingback: Just How Big Is $1 Trillion? | The Foundry

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.