NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 5, 2012

Consider these deficit facts

To the editor:

Facts:

The national debt is $16 trillion (more than 100 percent of Gross Domestic Product).

The unfunded liability of Medicare is more than $42 trillion (not included in national debt).

If you don’t believe it, read the actuarial estimates in the Medicare Trustees Report.

Medicare will be insolvent by 2024. Chief Medicare actuary Rick Foster says even this estimate is built on unreasonably optimistic assumptions.

The unfunded liability for Social Security is more than $20 trillion.

Social Security will be insolvent by 2036.

Adding the unfunded liability for federal employees’ future retirement benefits brings the combined total to more than $86 trillion.

One hundred percent of the payroll taxes to fund Medicare and Social Security was borrowed by the federal government and spent in the years collected. What remains is non-marketable Treasury debt, which must be converted to cash by the Treasury Department when the obligations come due (probably by trying to borrow from China and other nations).

To avoid going even deeper in debt would require the government to generate more than $8 trillion annually in tax collections.

According to the most recent IRS tax data, all individuals earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of only $5.1 trillion. All U.S. corporations had a total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion.

Ninety-nine percent of all independent enterprises in the country employ fewer than 500 people. These small enterprises account for 52 percent of all U.S. workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

About 75 percent of businesses, and almost all companies classified as small businesses, file their profits individually rather than through the corporate tax code. Raising taxes on this segment will impact employment and growth.

Obama’s proposal to tax the rich raises $1 trillion in 10 years! How does that reduce in a meaningful way either the national debt of $16 trillion ($20 trillion next year) or our current unfunded liability of $86 trillion?

Question: You tell me – should we be focused on increasing taxes or reducing spending?

Ray Matthews

Newburyport

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