The “Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 Financial Report of the U.S. Government” was made public just before Christmas last month. On a positive note, it showed that the government’s net operating cost shrank 37% from 2010, from a negative $2.1 trillion to a negative $1.3 trillion.
The findings of the report were summarized in a 16-page Citizen’s Guide. Among the details:
- The retirement of the baby boom generations over the next 25 years is projected to increase the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending shares of GDP by about 1.4 percentage points, 1.3 percentage points, and 1.0 percentage points, respectively.
- It is estimated that preventing the debt-to-GDP ratio from rising over the next 75 years would require running primary surpluses over the period that average 1.1 percent of GDP. This compares with an average primary deficit of 0.7 percent of GDP under current policy.
- The projections for the ratio of debt held by the public to GDP was 68 percent at the end of fiscal year 2011, and under current policy is projected to exceed 76 percent in 2022, 125 percent in 2042, and 287 percent in 2086. The continuous rise of the debt-to-GDP ratio illustrates that current policy is unsustainable.
- As of September 30, 2011, the Government held about $2.7 trillion in assets, comprised mostly of net property, plant, and equipment ($852.8 billion) and a combined total of $985.2 billion in net loans receivable, mortgage-backed securities, and investments.
- The Government’s largest liabilities are: Federal debt held by the public and accrued interest, the balance of which increased from $9.1 trillion to $10.2 trillion during FY 2011, and Federal employee postemployment and veteran benefits payable, which increased slightly during FY 2011, from $5.7 trillion to $5.8 trillion. In addition to debt held by the public, the Government reports about $4.7 trillion of intra-governmental debt outstanding.
- Total Government revenues increased slightly from $2.2 trillion to $2.4 trillion in FY 2011. Chart 3 shows that a $133 billion or 7.7 percent increase in personal income and payroll tax revenues during FY 2011 was partially offset by a $5 billion or 2.5 percent decrease in corporate tax revenues. Since 2007, corporate tax revenues have fallen by more than 50%, to $175 billion from $367 billion.