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Harvard study: Your share of the federal debt is $106,000

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Barack Obama,Debt Ceiling,Social Security,Entitlements,Budgets and Deficits,Food Stamps

American workers would have to cough up a one-time “debt reduction fee” of $106,000 to pay off the nation's debt that has grown 58 percent under President Obama, according to Harvard University's Institute of Politics annual report on the USA.

The 91-page report provided to Secrets pegged the nation’s debt at $16.7 trillion, up from the $10.6 trillion inherited by Obama. “The debt has grown so quickly because of large and repeated annual deficits in federal spending,” said the report.

What's more, the Annual Report of the USA, from the student at the Harvard Political Review and done in partnership with the American Education Foundation, found that food stamp usage has surged 77 percent during the recession and that Social Security benefits will be slashed 23 percent starting in 2033 unless Congress and the White House institute sweeping reforms.

The report is considered one of the nation’s authoritative independent analysis review of federal spending. One of the best benefits of the report is that the authors try to put huge numbers like the debt in perspective.

“Such large sums are difficult to conceptualize properly,” said the student authors in their report.

“If the federal government spent its yearly revenues exclusively on debt reduction and ceased all of its operations, it would take three of four years to pay down the debt. Or, the government could pay down the debt in one blow if it simply took more than $52,000 from every person living in the U.S., including children, the elderly, and the unemployed. If this one-time ‘debt reduction fee' were levied only on those in the workforce, the cost would be over $106,000 per person,” warned the report.

It also revealed how desperate American families have struggled during the recession that struck at the end of the Bush administration and has lasted through Obama’s two terms: food stamp participation has surged 77 percent and funding more than doubled to $71.8 billion.

Harvard said that from the beginning of the recession in late 2007, average monthly participation in the program jumped to historic levels and an annual bill of $30.4 billion.

The news isn’t much better on the Social Security front: “Without reform, Social Security beneficiaries will face a 23 percent benefit cut in 2033. By 2087, beneficiaries will receive 28 percent less than calculated under the current benefit formula."

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.