"The federal government keeps two sets of books…the set the government doesn't talk about reports a more ominous financial picture."
--Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

We've all heard about the federal debt. But most of us haven't heard the truth.

Politicians will tell you that the federal debt is more than $16 trillion.

That sounds bad enough—but it gets even worse. Together with unfunded liabilities (all of the benefits that the government has promised to seniors, Baby Boomers, and other citizens) our nation is in the hole for more than $71 trillion dollars.

That's more than $228,000 for every man, woman, and child in America, and it's growing every day.

"We have been diagnosed with fiscal cancer," says David Walker, the retired chief auditor of the United States government. "It seems clear that our nation's current fiscal path is unsustainable."

As the people who pay the bills, it's time to demand more of our political leaders—and to demand real solutions to an issue that could soon lead to a crisis. That's what Truth in 2012 is all about. Join us today.

Why does our national debt matter?

Nonpartisan financial experts tell us that our nation faces a unique set of pressures (to spend increasing amounts on health care, to sustain retirees' benefits with fewer active workers, and to fund the growing amount of interest on the national debt) that could culminate in a massive economic crisis.

Bob Bixby, the head of the Concord Coalition, points out that no one can predict when this crisis will erupt—or if it will unfold as "a long, slow erosion in the standard of living." To each of us, that would mean less choices in life, less freedom, and less of the things we take for granted each day.

With its shaky financial position and dozens of unfunded promises, the United States also faces threats to national security. With its financial assets in quicksand, the US would be less able to compete on an international level and less able to counter threats from competitors abroad. As our nation slips deeper and deeper into debt, it loses its flexibility, its power, and even its ability to operate on a very basic level.

The bottom line: the national debt matters because we, the people, are the ones who pay the bills. We are the ones who will be impacted by a financial crisis. That's why it is crucial to spread the Truth in 2012.

More facts

  • It took the country from George Washington until Ronald Reagan—approximately 200 years—to reach the first $1 trillion in debt.
  • When politicians talk about reducing the deficit, they are not talking about the debt. Politicians driven by short-term election goals focus on short-term problems. For example, President Bush once told us the problem was shrinking, pointing to  the  annual federal budget deficit, which fell from a high of $413 billion in fiscal 2004 to about $163 billion in fiscal 2007. The debt, meanwhile, continues to skyrocket.
  • All of the taxes you pay, including Social Security, are used for today's government services and benefits, not saved for the future.
  • According to the government's Office of Management and Budget, "there are no economic assets in the Social Security trust fund."
  • According to the Government Accountability Office, if spending on government retirement programs remains on its current course and revenues grow at their historical averages, interest on the debt could skyrocket from its current 9 percent to almost 30 percent of the budget by 2040.
  • Fed Chairman Ben Bernake has stated that the time to solve this problem was "ten years ago." Meanwhile, Congressional Quarterly reports that a delay of even 10 years in solving this will double the required pain to solve it.
  • We are now considering making the nation's fiscal problems much worse by expanding entitlements and bail-outs.  Fiscal 2009 will add more than a trillion dollars to the federal debt via deficit spending and as much as another five trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Where do our candidates stand?

As the field for the 2012 races begin to form, taxpayers and concerned Americans should be asking what these hopefuls intend to do about the fiscal hole we're in and which we are digging deeper.  Join with Truth in 2012 and make the candidates answer.

What Can You Do?
We're working to bring the financial truth to the elections, and we need your help!

Sign up today for e-letter updates and information on how you can get involved in Truth in Accounting.
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