...last year's deficit would not be $1.3 trillion, but $5 trillion. The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules. Link to the USA Today story: Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally And a few tasty tidbits: Key findings: Social Security had the biggest financial slide. The government would need $22.2 trillion today, set aside and earning interest, to cover benefits promised to current workers and retirees beyond what taxes will cover. That's $9.5 trillion more than was needed in 2004. Deficits from 2004 to 2011 would be six times the official total of $5.6 trillion reported. Federal debt and retiree commitments equal $561,254 per household. By contrast, an average household owes a combined $116,057 for mortgages, car loans and other debts. And Washington wants to spend MORE!