News - Bill's Blog

How big is the federal government, compared to Walmart?

July 15, 2019

A few days ago, CNSNews asked Senator Mike Braun of Indiana “Does the federal government spend too much money?” Sen. Braun’s answer included “Well, you know what my answer is going to be, yes. … It’s a terrible example for the rest of the country, for state governments, for any other part. …” 

“But when it comes to the biggest business in the world, the federal government which is about eight times the size of Walmart, who else can run a 20% loss each year? … If you do the math, that’s about what it is and it’s going to get worse in the future -- and then throw it on a credit card? I think it’s an embarrassment.”

Eight times as big as Walmart? That’s pretty big. 

In its latest annual financial report, Walmart reported about $500 billion in revenue. The federal government of the U.S. reported nearly $3.5 trillion in revenue, about seven times the size of Walmart.

But how big is Walmart in reported assets? Total debt? Compared to the U.S. federal government?

The federal government reported total assets about 19 times Walmart’s assets of $200 billion in the latest fiscal year.

The size of the federal government’s debt compared to Walmart's is where things get interesting, and underscores Sen. Braun’s concern about “throwing it on a credit card.”

Taking the federal government’s reported debt at face value, the federal government’s debt runs not eight, nor 80, but about 200 times as high as Walmart's debt

And if you include unfunded obligations for social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as we do at Truth in Accounting, the federal government’s debt runs not eight, nor 80, nor 200 times as high as Walmart, but about 880 times as high.

How long can this go on?

Well, it already has gone on a long time, and there are important differences between Walmart and the federal government explaining why. Walmart has to depend on consumers freely choosing whether or not to shop at its stores (and its websites). And Walmart can’t print its own money.

The federal government has the power to tax, and to print money, and unashamedly cites those powers as resources that aren’t listed as assets on its balance sheet.

But the federal government regularly claims these powers are in its possession as sovereign powers -- in a document theoretically securing the accountability of the government to the real sovereign in the United States of America – We the People.



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