‘It’s only a matter of time before the public realizes it’
Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert, the premium online newsletter published by the current No. 1 best-selling author, WND staff writer and columnist. This week, he is including a Chapter One excerpt from his book, “America for Sale.”Red Alert subscriptions are $99 a year or $9.95 per month for credit card users. Annual subscribers will receive a free autographed copy of “The Late Great USA,” a book about the careful deceptions of a powerful elite who want to undermine our nation’s sovereignty.
The real 2008 federal budget deficit was $5.1 trillion, not the $455 billion previously reported by the Congressional Budget Office, according to the 2008 Financial Report of the United States Government released by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports.
The difference between the $455 billion “official” budget deficit numbers and the $5.1 trillion budget deficit based on data reported in the 2008 financial report is that the official budget deficit is calculated on a cash basis, where all tax receipts, including Social Security tax receipts, are used to pay government liabilities as they occur.
The calculations in the 2008 financial report are calculated on a GAAP basis (“Generally Accepted Accounting Practices”) that includes year-for-year changes in the net present value of unfunded liabilities in social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Under cash accounting, the government makes no provision for future Social Security and Medicare benefits in the year in which those benefits accrue.
Economist John Williams, who publishes the website Shadow Government Statistics, told Corsi, “As bad as 2008 was, the $455 billion budget deficit on a cash basis and the $5.1 trillion federal budget deficit on a GAAP accounting basis do not reflect any significant money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, which was approved after the close of the fiscal year.”
He continued, “For 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the fiscal year 2009 budget deficit as being $1.2 trillion on a cash basis, and that was before taking into consideration the full costs of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, before the cost of the Obama nearly $800 billion economic stimulus plan, or the cost of the second $350 billion tranche in TARP funds, as well as all current bailouts being contemplated by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve.”
Williams told Corsi the federal government’s deficit is hemorrhaging at a pace that threatens the viability of the financial system. He said the 2009 budget deficit will clearly exceed $2 trillion on a cash basis and the full amount must be funded by Treasury borrowing. He noted that it’s not likely to happen without the Federal Reserve acting as lender of last resort by buying Treasury debt and monetizing the debt.
Corsi explained, “‘Monetizing the debt’ is a term used to signify that the U.S. Treasury will ultimately be required to print cash to meet Treasury debt obligations, acting in this capacity only because the Treasury cannot sell the huge amount of debt elsewhere, possibly not even to the Federal Reserve.”
So far, the Treasury has been largely dependent upon foreign buyers, principally China and Japan and other major holders of U.S. dollar foreign exchange reserves, including Middle East oil-producing nations purchasing U.S. debt through their financial agents in London.
“The appetite of foreign buyers to purchase continued trillions of U.S. debt has become more questionable as the world has witnessed the rapid deterioration of the U.S. fiscal condition in the current financial crisis,” Williams noted.
Corsi wrote, “The sad reality is that the U.S. Treasury has not reserved any funds to cover the future Social Security and Medicare obligations we are incurring today.”
Williams said there are no funds held in reserve today for Social Security and Medicare obligations each year. He said it’s only a matter of time until the public realizes that the government is truly bankrupt.
Corsi wrote that if President Obama adds universal health care to list of entitlement payments the federal government is obligated to pay, the negative net worth of the United States government will only get worse.
Calculations from the 2008 Financial Report of the United States Government show that the GAAP negative net worth of the federal government has increased to $59.3 trillion, while the total federal obligations under GAAP accounting now total $65.5 trillion.
Williams explained the federal government is truly bankrupt and argued that in a post-Enron world, if the federal government were a corporation such as General Motors, “the president and senior Treasury officers would be in federal penitentiary.”
Red Alert’s author, whose books “The Obama Nation” and “Unfit for Command” have topped the New York Times best-sellers list, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972. For nearly 25 years, beginning in 1981, he worked with banks throughout the U.S. and around the world to develop financial services marketing companies to assist banks in establishing broker/dealers and insurance subsidiaries to provide financial planning products and services to their retail customers. In this career, Corsi developed three different third-party financial services marketing firms that reached gross sales levels of $1 billion in annuities and equal volume in mutual funds. In 1999, he began developing Internet-based financial marketing firms, also adapted to work in conjunction with banks.
In his 25-year financial services career, Corsi has been a noted financial services speaker and writer, publishing three books and numerous articles in professional financial services journals and magazines.
For financial guidance during difficult times, read Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert, the premium, online intelligence news source by the WND staff writer, columnist and author of the New York Times No. 1 best-seller, “The Obama Nation.“
The country first got into debt to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Growing ever since, the debt stands today at a staggering $11.4 trillion – equivalent to about $37,000 for each and every American. And it’s expanding by over $1 trillion a year.
The mountain of debt easily could become the next full-fledged economic crisis without firm action from Washington, economists of all stripes warn.
“Unless we demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal sustainability in the longer term, we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told Congress.
Higher taxes, or reduced federal benefits and services – or a combination of both – may be the inevitable consequences.
The debt is complicating efforts by President Obama and Congress to cope with the worst recession in decades as stimulus and bailout spending combine with lower tax revenues to widen the gap.
Interest payments on the debt alone cost $452 billion last year – the largest federal spending category after Medicare-Medicaid, Social Security and defense. It’s quickly crowding out all other government spending. And the Treasury is finding it harder to find new lenders.
The United States went into the red the first time in 1790 when it assumed $75 million in the war debts of the Continental Congress.
Alexander Hamilton, the first treasury secretary, said, “A national debt, if not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.”
Since then, the nation has only been free of debt once, in 1834-1835.
The national debt has expanded during times of war and usually contracted in times of peace, while staying on a generally upward trajectory. Over the past several decades, it has climbed sharply – except for a respite from 1998 to 2000, when there were annual budget surpluses, reflecting in large part what turned out to be an overheated economy.
The debt soared with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and economic stimulus spending under President George W. Bush and now Obama.
The odometer-style “debt clock” near Times Square – put in place in 1989 when the debt was a mere $2.7 trillion – ran out of numbers and had to be shut down when the debt surged past $10 trillion in 2008.
The clock has since been refurbished so higher numbers fit. There are several debt clocks on websites maintained by public interest groups that let you watch hundreds, thousands, millions zip by in a matter of seconds.
The debt gap is “something that keeps me awake at night,” Obama says.
He pledged to cut the budget “deficit” roughly in half by the end of his first term. But “deficit” just means the difference between government receipts and spending in a single budget year.
This year’s deficit is now estimated at about $1.85 trillion.
Deficits don’t reflect holdover indebtedness from previous years. Some spending items – such as emergency appropriations bills and receipts in the Social Security program – aren’t included, either, although they are part of the national debt.
The national debt is a broader, and more telling, way to look at the government’s balance sheets than glancing at deficits.
According to the Treasury Department, which updates the number “to the penny” every few days, the national debt was $11,518,472,742,288 on Wednesday.
The overall debt is now slightly over 80% of the annual output of the entire U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product.
By historical standards, it’s not proportionately as high as during World War II, when it briefly rose to 120% of GDP. But it’s still a huge liability.
Also, the United States is not the only nation struggling under a huge national debt. Among major countries, Japan, Italy, India, France, Germany and Canada have comparable debts as percentages of their GDPs.
Where does the government borrow all this money from?
The debt is largely financed by the sale of Treasury bonds and bills. Even today, amid global economic turmoil, those still are seen as one of the world’s safest investments.
That’s one of the rare upsides of U.S. government borrowing.
Treasury securities are suitable for individual investors and popular with other countries, especially China, Japan and the Persian Gulf oil exporters, the three top foreign holders of U.S. debt.
But as the U.S. spends trillions to stabilize the recession-wracked economy, helping to force down the value of the dollar, the securities become less attractive as investments. Some major foreign lenders are already paring back on their purchases of U.S. bonds and other securities.
And if major holders of U.S. debt were to flee, it would send shock waves through the global economy – and sharply force up U.S. interest rates.
As time goes by, demographics suggest things will get worse before they get better, even after the recession ends, as more baby boomers retire and begin collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.
While the president remains personally popular, polls show there is rising public concern over his handling of the economy and the government’s mushrooming debt – and what it might mean for future generations.
If things can’t be turned around, including establishing a more efficient health care system, “We are on an utterly unsustainable fiscal course,” said the White House budget director, Peter Orszag.
Some budget-restraint activists claim even the debt understates the nation’s true liabilities.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, established by a former commerce secretary and investment banker, argues that the $11.4 trillion debt figures does not take into account roughly $45 trillion in unlisted liabilities and unfunded retirement and health care commitments.
That would put the nation’s full obligations at $56 trillion, or roughly $184,000 per American, according to this calculation.