Originals

Your share of the national debt is now $1.1 million

Merill Matthews

, Rare Contributor

Each U.S. taxpayer now has a federal-debt liability of $1.1 million, and rising.

Remember that when President Obama boasts that the federal deficit—the shortfall between annual revenues and spending—is declining. Of course, the primary reason for the decline is the sequester, which was his idea but now adamantly opposes.

The public tends to focus on the total national debt, which just passed the $17 trillion mark—up from $10.6 trillion when President Obama took office. But that figure pales in comparison to the federal government’s long term unfunded liabilities—money the government is obligated to pay over and above the revenues it is estimated to receive.

According to the U.S. Debt Clock, total long term unfunded liabilities are at $126 trillion, a $1.1 million liability for each U.S. taxpayer.

The main driver of that astronomical number is two of our major entitlement programs: Social Security and Medicare.

The Debt Clock says Social Security is looking at $16.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities, while Medicare faces $87.6 trillion. And Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, which passed in 2003, adds another $22 trillion.

The Debt Clock’s Medicare unfunded liability is twice the current government projection—$43 trillion—because Democrats used Obamacare to try and deceive the public. Prior to passage the government’s estimate was similar to the Debt Clock’s.

That difference is because Obamacare requires the Medicare trustees, who annually report on the program’s financial condition, to assume that Medicare will significantly cut reimbursements to doctors and hospitals in the future.

Medicare’s chief actuary, the now-retired Richard Foster, didn’t believe a word of it and published a separate “memorandum” to shine a light on the Democrats’ financial foolery.

The Trustees Report is necessarily based on current law; … however, the projections shown in the report are clearly unrealistic … The purpose of this memorandum is to present a set of Medicare projections under hypothetical alternatives to those provisions to help illustrate and quantify the potential magnitude of the cost understatement under current law,” Foster’s memorandum states.

In Obama-land, disclosures like that— unlike lying to Congress or bungling the Obamacare rollout—can lead to retirement in a hurry.

The health law requires the trustees to assume a steady decline in hospital reimbursement rates for Medicare to about 39 percent of what private insurance would pay in 2086. And reimbursements for physicians serving Medicare patients “would eventually fall to 26 percent of private health insurance levels.”

The chief actuary didn’t think many doctors would see Medicare patients if they were taking a 75 percent cut to do so—and he’s right.

So keep a close eye on members of Congress as they get together soon to consider budget changes, including entitlement reform. Democrats have proven they are willing to cook the books to make it look like they are spending less—so they can spend much, much more.

(Art by @GDMacri)

Merill Matthews

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, a research-based, public policy think tank in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews

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