Oh don't get me started Mish, I am on the record as saying this year's deficit would be 1.2 trillion and growing fast. But, how can we know? That is a great question since we have not had a real budget in how long? What we have are continuing resolutions and the great cliff that requires they lift the debt ceiling. That debt ceiling, biggest joke in US political history.
But, you did say this and I want to STRONGLY disagree with you for a change: "Unfunded liabilities like SS add to the debt but supposedly to to the deficit until realized."
Social Security is not an unfunded liability, and I would challenge anyone who uses that term as being biased and politically wielding an ax for the right wing.
Social Security is actually OVER FUNDED to the tune of now more than $6 trillion, that is why that much of the federal debt shows up as "intergovernmental holdings." Now that really is a lie, intergovernmental holdings is just another way to say the money we have already stolen from your retirement check. In the end though the federal government is legally obligated to pay my social security benefits out of the general fund which took the money we overpaid.
"Legally obligated" is a catch phrase for the benefits will keep rolling no matter what, even if they have to borrow those trillions elsewhere, unfortunately that elsewhere is likely to be the Fed which will print it up and stick us all with inflation that will moot the cost of keeping the old and disabled alive. Just because they are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to pay my benefit and also to adjust that for annual inflation does not mean that I can get by on what they pay. Because the federal government and the Fed acting together control monetary policy, fiscal policy, and the printing press. They can claim a can 4 ounce can of tuna costs the same as 5 and 3/4 ounce of tuna all they want to, I just know that it costs me about twice as much as it did in 2011.
The place the whole unfunded liability meme got started was in Illinois, and only because that state pretty much has had a perfect storm of problems, and because they do not have any control over such events as 299% increase in healthcare costs since before the GFC. Or more than 165% price increase in college for their kids. And none of that is reflected in the CPI which is now nothing more than a plug number made up to promote Fed and Federal policy of handing all the wealth of this nation to the top 1%. They did not over promise benefits, they just had no idea about the depth of financialization and inflation when they promised it. REAL INFLATION is now multiples of what the headline bullshit numbers are and if you are broke and in trouble it must be YOUR fault, not the Fed or federal government that tells us prices are pretty much the same as when Clinton left office.
The real problem with the idea of unfunded liability is that businesses and people do not work on the same basis as government, and because we no longer have an annual budget that unifies income and outgo even the government does not work on that basis anymore, they should but they don't. If they did there would be in essence a pile of cash worth over $6 trillion sitting in the head office of social security right this moment. Far more than enough to pay my benefit, at a REASONABLE raise for inflation.
Our accounting is so very fucked up it is not funny, the only countries worse are China, the EU, Japan and, well all of them, christ, look at Canada. Because you cannot mix cash accounting with accrual accounting, it does not work, doesn't add up. Right wingers have taken advantage of this to claim our system is a failure, no matter that the wealth and claims on that wealth have not actually changed.