Here's What We Are Up Against

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  • 1. Heres What Were Up Against (You, Me & Every Other American) the latest figures on Uncle Sams red ink: the more we know, the sooner we can brainstorm on solutions

2. Uncle Sam is going to need a lot of help paying the bills: guess how much you owe? Would you believe: over $184,000 per person and over $483,000 for each household in America? 3. How did this happen?!! The big hole in our national wallet is the result of three things: * deficits * debt * unfunded liabilities 4. 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. 5. 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) 6. 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. 7. Ready now? Here are the latest government figures on how much the federal government owes 8. Buckle up - - here are the latest statistics on how the federal government is spending its money (and why there isnt any left over). 9. The president's budget calls for major new spending on economic recovery, health care reform, and energy Total federal spending would reach $3.6 trillion Federal spending would account for 28.1% of GDP in 2009, but is projected to fall in later years Source: Budget of the United States Government Under President Obama's budget request for 2009: 10. How about all the money we pay in taxes?! Youre right the federal government does rake in a lot of revenue: taxes, tariffs and other fees. Heres a look at the latest stats on how much cash the feds take in. 11. Note: OECD comparison is for total tax burden, using accepted standard among member nations. Source: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development Factbook 12. You might think the $2.1 trillion the feds took in last year was a lot of money. And it was. But it doesnt begin to compare with the size of the deficit and national debt. Then theres the trillions spent bailing out the failing economy. 13. 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 its made to current and future retirees? 14. Its a big problem, but we can solve it. Tools for change: Students Face Up To The Nations 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. 15. Weve 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, an essay and video contest with cash prizes, and much more: nonpartisan, free and available online at: http://www.FacingUp.or g 16. For more information about our 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. 17. Credits Written and produced by Francie Grace Charts by Jenny Choi and Sanura Weathers Funding for Students Face Up To The Nations Finances was provided by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation ( Follow us on Twitter/FacingUp