(Fox News) The federal government has been low-balling the public for years on how much debt it actually has, a University of California, San Diego economics professor says, adding that the real amount is $70 trillion – not $16.9 trillion.

James Hamilton’s claim the United States is in a much deeper financial hole than many realize comes as Congress gets ready for another budget battle when lawmakers return in September. Both sides have been digging in on their policy positions over the debt, spending and the country’s future fiscal health.

Hamilton believes the government is miscalculating what it owes by leaving out certain unfunded liabilities that include government loan guarantees, deposit insurance, and actions taken by the Federal Reserve as well as the cost of other government trust funds. Factoring in those figures brings the total amount the government owes to a staggering $70 trillion, he says.

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