America’s hidden debt problem

America’s total debt load is on pace to top $13 trillion this year, and $22 trillion by 2020 — and that’s just the debt we’re counting. What’s not being counted: potential debt bombs that don’t get factored into most budget analysis.

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The first is the debt held by the public. That’s money owed to those who have bought U.S. Treasurys, most notably big bond mutual funds and foreign governments. Debt held by the public today is roughly $8 trillion and rising.

The second number is the money the federal government owes to government trust funds, such as those for Medicare and Social Security. The government has used revenue collected for those programs to cover other outlays. Currently, the debt to the trust funds is approaching $5 trillion.

The two combined is the total gross debt that’s accounted for. But deficit hawks also worry about what’s not on the books. [Read the full article]

Idaho schools will likely make do with 7.5 percent less in total funding next year, according to a plan that includes reducing salaries for first-year teachers.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee aims to give schools $128 million less in fiscal year 2011 than they’re getting this year from all funding sources. State general fund spending is due to drop 1.4 percent, to $1.21 billion.

Budget writers originally aimed to set the schools’ spending plan Monday, but opted to give House and Senate lawmakers until Wednesday to review their proposal.

It includes cutting Idaho’s minimum teacher salary to $29,655; suspending pay hikes based on experience and education; and dumping early retirement for a year.

Rep. Maxine Bell, a budget panel co-chair, calls the budget a “hard pill to swallow” but unavoidable. [Read the full article]

Dozens of entrepreneurial hot sauce bottles line up on a typical grocery store shelf, but only two or three boast significant market share. Tops among them is Tabasco, which has been made by the McIlhenny Company out of Avery Island, La., since 1868. The company, still family-run and privately held, won’t disclose its financials, but analysts estimate that the iconic brand — which supplies countless bars, first-class airline cabins and the U.S. military with bottles of its red sauce — owns about 20%-25% of the market.

McIlhenny, which grows its peppers all over the western hemisphere, sells six flavors of Tabasco, but none come close the numbers of its bestseller, the original red. International business comprises 40% of the company’s overall sales. Up next: Expansion into emerging markets like Brazil, China, and Eastern Europe. [Read the full article]

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