Clarity, anyone?

One could ask that of many public questions. The choice here is US government public debt. Why is it that many commentators that one reads or hears claim that it is now around 70 per cent of US GPD?

Wikipedia has much merit even as one must cast a very critical eye over much that appears there. On this subject it seems pretty much accurate (see also here):

As of June 29, 2011, the Total Public Debt Outstanding was $14.46 trillion and was approximately 98.6% of calendar year 2010’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) of $14.66 trillion.

There are those who hold that the US public debt (and this ignores the states and local government, whose own debt threatens, when it has not already realised, bankruptcy) is not a matter of comparison with government debt Greece and the like. I take it they exclude from their calculations:

Intragovernmental Holdings, representing U.S. Treasury securities held in accounts which are administered by the federal government, such as the OASI Trust fund administered by the Social Security Administration . . .

Yet these do not represent, as it were, any form of cash in hand. They are an aspect of government debt.

That said, it also seems that the players in the congressional drama have little or no intention of approaching their nation’s financial problems with any seriousness. For some, various programs are sacrosanct: they might be medicare and social security, or perhaps defence: the one likely to bankrupt them over time, another a sewer of financial irregularity. Some would tax the “rich” more, some appear to ignore anomalies of corporate taxation (GE comes to mind). Whichever it might be, performances appear calculated upon the limits of a deracinated public. Frivolity reigns.





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