Q Al, can I ask you one? I can't remember the last time the President spoke about the national debt, which is now over $8 trillion. Is that something you guys worry about?
DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Well, I don't know where your $8 trillion comes from, but we --
Q The public website.
DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Well, I guess it really depends on what you're including, but let me -- again, the President is most concerned about the economy and the budget. And a key component of that, as I have spoken earlier, is the budget deficit. And, you know, that's what contributes to the overall budget debt, the country's debt, and that's why it's so important to reduce the budget deficit and, hopefully, ultimately, eliminate the budget deficit.
Q Does the magnitude of the national debt disturb you?
DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Actually, again, I don't know what numbers you're using, but the current budget debt is not a problem, but we do not want it to grow as a percentage of the GDP. That's the way you want to look at it, is the debt as a percentage of GDP. And our budget debt is lower than many other developed countries. The President is committed to keeping it low; that's why he wants to cut the budget deficit in half by 2009.
But, you know, the biggest -- and this is off-balance-sheet -- the biggest problem we face are the unfunded liabilities of our entitlements, of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. For Social Security it's $11 trillion; for Medicare it's significantly higher than that. And that's why we've got to tackle entitlements. The longer we wait, the more difficult it's going to be, and that's why the President spent so much time last year talking about Social Security. That's why he will continue to talk about Social Security.
And that's why, unfortunately -- you know, I wish the Democrats were right, that we could avoid dealing with Social Security, but we can't. Every year it grows bigger by $600 billion, the problem. And the sooner we address it, the easier it's going to be to address, and that's why this President will never give up on reforming Social Security.
Thank you all.
Q Check the Bureau of Public Debt website, you'll see the number there.
DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Okay, thank you.
Q You bet.
8 Trillion Dollars is a whole lot of Debt. Not to mention the interest on that debt compounding - just getting that paid down is an astounding number. Why aren't there more fiscal consservatives pissed about this number?