According to the USA Today article below, the national deficit depends on who you ask. A couple of excerpts: "The audited financial statement — prepared by the Treasury Department — reveals a federal government in far worse financial shape than official budget reports indicate, a USA TODAY analysis found. The government has run a deficit of $2.9 trillion since 1997, according to the audited number. The official deficit since then is just $729 billion. The difference is equal to an entire year's worth of federal spending. " "The federal government keeps two sets of books. The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005. The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion." "The Clinton administration reported a surplus of $559 billion in its final four budget years. The audited numbers showed a deficit of $484 billion. " See the article at http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-08-02-deficit-usat_x.htm I'd love to hear the input of those who are familiar with accounting practicies and standards.