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H ere’s What We’re Up Against (You, Me & Every Other American). the latest figures on Uncle Sam’s red ink: the more we know, the sooner we can brainstorm on solutions Uncle Sam is going to need a lot of help paying the bills: guess how much you owe?.

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Here’s What We’re Up Against(You, Me & Every Other American)

  • the latest figures on Uncle Sam’s red ink:the more we know, the sooner we canbrainstorm on solutions

Uncle Sam is going to need a lot of help paying the bills: guess how much you owe?

Would you believe: more than $200,000 per person?


How did this happen?!!

The big hole in our national wallet is the result of three things: * deficits * debt * unfunded liabilities


Deficits are the annual amount the government spends that is more than the amount of money it takes in (i.e., revenue) from taxes, fees and tariffs.


Debt is the accumulation of deficits over time

There are two kinds of debt:

Public debt: federal government securities (for example, Treasury bills) purchased and held by Americans and foreigners

Intragovernmental debt:amounts the government borrows from trust funds (for example, Social Security)


Unfunded liabilities are benefits that the government has promised to pay in the future,

without knowing in advance exactly where the money to pay those benefits will come from.

Social Security & Medicare are both unfunded liabilities.


Buckle up - - here are the latest statistics on how the federal government is spending its money (and why there isn’t any left over).


Under President Obama'sbudget request for FY 2011:

–The president's budget calls for continued

spending under the Recovery Act, on health care,

education, energy, and defense, yet the majority

of the budget continues to be composed of

spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,

and interest on the national debt – Total federal spending would reach $3.8 trillion.

Total revenues would be $2.6 trillion. – Federal spending is projected to account for

25.1% of GDP, but is projected to fall in future


Source: “Budget of the United States: Fiscal Year 2011,”

February 2010, Office of Management and Budget


How about all the money we pay in taxes?! You’re right – the federal government does rake in a lot of revenue: taxes, tariffs and other fees.

Here’s a look at the latest stats on how much cash the feds take in.


Note: OECD comparison is for total tax burden, using accepted standard among member nations.

Source: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development Factbook


You might think the $2.1 trillion the feds took in last year was a lot of money. And it was.

But it doesn’t begin to compare with the size of the deficit and national debt.

Then there’s the trillions spent bailing out the failing economy.


So what can we do?!

Are we doomed to drown in debt, with spiraling interest rates, more vulnerability to the actions of our foreign lenders, and less ability for our government to buy the things we need and keep the promises it’s made to current and future retirees?


It’s a big problem, but we can solve it.

Tools for change:

Students Face Up To The Nation’s Finances has

nonpartisan discussion guides to the pros and cons of different ways to solve the problem, to help citizens and policymakers decide on a plan for action.


We’ve also got interactive budget balancing games (challenge a fellow student, rival class, or even that team that beat you in football),

a reading list, plus live webinars, other web resources and much more: nonpartisan, free and available online at:


For more information aboutour curriculum for college students and other citizens concerned about the budget deficit and national debt, please contact:

Andrew Yarrow or

Melissa Feldsher

Public Agenda (, publisher of this curriculum, is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization.



Written and produced by Francie Grace

Charts by Jenny Choi, Allison Rizzolo and Sanura Weathers

Funding for Students Face Up To The Nation’s Financeswas provided by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (

Follow us on Twitter/FacingUp