What do we really owe?

When discussing the federal budget, the size of the numbers being dealt with and their different meanings and calculations becomes overwhelming and even irrelevant. The federal deficit is an example of this. While President Bush and federal bureaucrats like to cite our supposedly reduced deficit as a result of their successful policies, when future obligations are accounted for, the picture is much worse. In fact, according to a recent article in the USA Today, “the federal government’s long-term financial obligations grew by $2.5 trillion last year, a reflection of the mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits.”
As the article goes on to explain:

Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That’s nearly $500,000 per household.
When obligations of state and local governments are added, the total rises to $61.7 trillion, or $531,472 per household. That is more than four times what Americans owe in personal debt such as mortgages.
The $2.5 trillion in federal liabilities dwarfs the $162 billion the government officially announced as last year’s deficit, down from $248 billion a year earlier.

Clearly, entitlement reform should be a top priority of politicians in both parties, but it doesn’t look like any of the current crop are making it a top priority…instead, it seems that our children will be inheriting our debts.