News analysis: Medicare deficit rose by $1.2 trillion last year

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Editors' Blog: Reconciliation time
Editors' Blog: Reconciliation time
The federal government accrued $2.5 trillion in new financial obligations to entitlement programs last year, far surpassing the reported figures of $162 billion, according to a new analysis from USA Today.

Medicare was the biggest of the new liabilities, ringing in a massive $1.2 trillion in 2007. Social Security came in a close second at $900 billion, followed by civil servant retirement and veteran's benefits at $140 billion combined, according to the broadsheet. In its finance reports, the federal government takes into account only what it owes for the current year, not what it owes but will pay at a later date. As a result, it reports deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars, not the multiple trillions they actually are.

The federal lifetime liability to cover every citizen eligible for Medicare alone stands at more than $57 trillion, according to USA Today. Of that amount, more than $30 trillion is unfunded, meaning that, after paying all future Medicare taxes, the government still needs $30 trillion to pay for all current eligible recipients of the program. When the baby boomers hit 65 and are eligible for Medicare, that number is sure to go up, USA Today said.