This Is Why the US Government Deficit Numbers Are a Big Lie

by Wolf Richter

The US gross national debt has jumped by $1.38 trillion in fiscal 2016.

In fiscal 2016 and 2015 combined, the gross national debt ballooned by $1.71 trillion, $850 billion on average each year. There were only four years in the history This Is Why the US Government Deficit Numbers Are a Big Lieof the US when deficits exceeded this average: 2009-2012.

The US government borrowed $4 trillion more than it said it spent since 2003. That $4 trillion in borrowed money—the bonds are still out there—went up in smoke, according to government numbers. But money doesn’t go up in smoke. It flows somewhere.

What happened to the $700 billion in real money that the US government borrowed over the past two fiscal years but never officially spent? What happened to the $4 trillion that the US government borrowed but never officially spent since 2013? Where did this money go?

It doesn’t matter who sits in the White House: It happened under Clinton, under Bush, and under Obama. It’s standard operating procedure, but hidden from view. And it’s getting bigger.

That money went somewhere, and US taxpayers owe it, and have to struggle with the debt and the interest on it for all eternity. Another thing: the US government’s accounting of what it spends—and therefore the deficit numbers—are big lies. Since 2003, the US government admitted to an accumulated deficit of $9.26 trillion, but the national debt during that time rose by $13.3 trillion. That’s not a rounding error, but a liar margin of 43%.

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