Real national debt is more than five times larger

Former GOP congressmen Chris Cox and Bill Archer contend that the reason the U.S. hasn’t already reformed Medicare and Social Security is that most people don’t know the size of the unfunded liabilities of the entitlement programs. That’s because the U.S. Treasury isn’t required to include those liabilities in its “balance sheet.” If those liabilities were included, the nation’s debt wouldn’t total $16 trillion but nearly $87 trillion, or 550 percent of the gross domestic product. “When the accrued expenses of the government’s entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually,” they wrote.