Report: Hidden U.S. debt at $59 trillion

May 29, 2007 at 11:41 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) -- If the U.S. government used standard corporate accounting practices, the nation's total liability would be $59.1 trillion, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Because the government keeps Social Security and Medicare on separate ledgers, the amount the government actually owes is far higher than claimed, as the two programs account for 85 percent of the total shortfall, the newspaper said.

The government claimed a $248 billion 2006 budget deficit but if standard accounting had been used to include the two programs, the true number would be $1.3 trillion, the report said.

Accountants in the analysis said the $59.1 trillion represents a 2.6 percent increase over last year and works out to $516,348 for every U.S. household.

Corporations and all levels of government except at the federal level use accounting practices that require expenses, including future ones, be recorded immediately. However, the White House and the Congressional Budget Office claim Medicare and Social Security aren't true liabilities because government can cancel or cut them at any time.

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