By JOHN CRUDELE
If you look at a new document on the Treasury Department Web site called the "2003 Financial Report of the U.S. Government," you'll see that this country's indebtedness grew by $3.7 trillion over just the past year.
Nearly $2 trillion of that amount of new indebtedness is because of money we will owe in the future when today's taxpayers start collecting Social Security and Medicare. In all, the country is $34.8 trillion in debt.
But stay with me and you'll understand why Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan - seemingly out of the blue - suddenly started talking about cutting government Social Security benefits.
Washington has already admitted to a troubling deficit of $374.8 billion in its fiscal year that ended last September.
But the government says that if it kept its books like a company does - called the accrual method of accounting - the 2003 deficit would have been a staggering $665 billion (Page 6 of report).
The 2004 deficit is expected to be around $500 billion because of the Iraq war and tax cuts.
But that means that if the government didn't have its own accounting method and had to record costs like businesses do, the deficit would probably be more than $750 billion. For one year.
These sort of numbers will be a big problem for the financial markets when they start paying attention.
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