I’m going to have to do a little clean-up work here (i.e., run the data in Excel instead of Stata), so I’ll ask forgiveness for the double-labels and all that.Graphic redone; data as per FRED. I think the story is clear. The long version is Bruce’s post below.
What is now the top line is total government debt. The bottom line in Publicly-Held Government Debt.
The lines become bold as ofThere is now a dividing line at FY 1984, which began the year after the Greenspan Commission put a regressive tax on low- and mid-level wage earners which was supposed to prefund their (our) retirement needs.
The difference between the two lines is the money that has been contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund in order to “save” it.*
*The Greenspan Commission was clear on this, requiring that, as of 1993, the President’s Budget Proposal note both the real (i.e., ex-SocSec overpayment) deficit as well as the nominal one, precisely because they did not want the system to be gamed.