Great news: The US fiscal gap just jumped $11 trillion … to $222 trillion

posted at 10:01 am on August 9, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Forget the trillion-dollar deficits for a moment.  Forget today’s $15 trillion in national debt.  The real fiscal disaster isn’t our present — it’s our future, and it just got significantly worse.  Bloomberg economists Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns report that our “fiscal gap,” the measure of future liabilities to future revenue, grew by the same amount as our present public debt to reach $222 trillion.  That’s trillion with a T:

Republicans and Democrats spent last summer battling how best to save $2.1 trillion over the next decade. They are spending this summer battling how best to not save $2.1 trillion over the next decade.

In the course of that year, the U.S. government’s fiscal gap — the true measure of the nation’s indebtedness – rose by $11 trillion.

The fiscal gap is the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue. It captures all government liabilities, whether they are official obligations to service Treasury bonds or unofficial commitments, such as paying for food stamps or buying drones. …

The U.S. fiscal gap, calculated (by us) using the Congressional Budget Office’s realistic long-term budget forecast — the Alternative Fiscal Scenario — is now $222 trillion. Last year, it was $211 trillion. The $11 trillion difference — this year’s true federal deficit — is 10 times larger than the official deficit and roughly as large as the entire stock of official debt in public hands.

What is the main driver of this fiscal gap?  Mainly, it’s the entitlement liabilities that we have been multiplying for the last eighty years.  When 78 million Americans in the Baby Boomer generation retire, the resulting liabilities will take a  whopping 85% of per-capita GDP to satisfy.  Trillion-dollar deficits are unsustainable; this is flat-out unattainable.  There is simply no way that the US can or will meet those obligations, even if we have another population boom, which seems unlikely. It’s practically the textbook definition of an empty promise.

Kotlikoff and Burns give an idea of the scope needed in policy changes now to eliminate the fiscal gap.  Either we have to immediately increase federal taxes by 64% (and that number goes up for every year we delay), immediately cut liabilities by 40% across the board (including entitlement benefits being paid now), or use a mix of both approaches to reach financial equilibrium.  And that’s what we have to do just to stop further growth in our current national debt, let alone start paying it down.

We’ve been talking about the “fiscal cliff” or “Taxmageddon” coming at the end of the year, but this is the real fiscal cliff we face.  And yet, no one in this general-election cycle has even acknowledged it, let alone proposed a solution to it.  In my column today for The Fiscal Times, I wonder when either political party will focus on the forest rather than the trees, or (more often) the mud at the base of the trees:

The biggest problems, though, are the candidates and the political parties themselves.  The issues that voters want to discuss are broad, complicated, and far-reaching.  So far, though, the response from both sides only nibbles at well-chewed edges of the core issues, with no one seemingly capable of framing a larger debate over the vision for America’s economy for the next several decades.  One side talks about tax burdens, the other about fairness, and so far neither has given voters a comprehensive plan for solving this interlocking puzzle. …

Taxes at the federal level are designed to produce the income necessary for the mission of the US government.  Spending directly relates to the mission.  We need to know the scope and size of the mission before we can determine spending and the appropriate level of taxation.  Do we want the federal government to have plenary jurisdiction in all areas of our lives, where it dictates personal choices and overrides religious objections in the name of the greater good?  We have been traveling along those lines for decades, but still provide funding for only about 60 percent of the annual costs for such a mission.  Do we want a federal government that only absorbs 20 percent of GDP?  Then we need to rest the mission to keep the costs within those boundaries.

What has been missing from the political campaign this year, and truly every cycle since Ronald Reagan’s midterm election, is an honest debate over the mission and resources of the federal government and its component parts.  That is almost certainly by design, since most politicians would be afraid to stand on a comprehensive platform that would immediately alienate a large section of the electorate.  Instead, politicians will tell voters that we don’t need to make tough choices, and end up kicking the can down the road.  Unfortunately, we’re running out of road, and we’re almost at the dead end.  Voters want to know how the candidates proposing turning around, and instead, both sides are arguing about the size of the curbs.

This election should be about competing visions for the future of America, with solid policy supporting each vision.  We just don’t have enough elections between now and when this crisis will hit to waste one.


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FIRST!!

abobo on August 9, 2012 at 10:05 AM

$740,000 for every man, woman and child in America????

What???

faraway on August 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Mwahaha!!

abobo on August 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Well, that’s disheartening.

Night Owl on August 9, 2012 at 10:07 AM

well just reference the the thread in Headlines for one reason: “Over 100 Million Now Receiving Federal Welfare.”

bayview on August 9, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Seriously though, the parallels to ancient Rome are starting to get beyond way too close for comfort.

abobo on August 9, 2012 at 10:07 AM

can we haz SMOD now??

ted c on August 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

And yet odds makers in Vegas say Obama will be re-elected. Stupidity or suicide?

MaiDee on August 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Kotlikoff and Burns give an idea of the scope needed in policy changes now to eliminate the fiscal gap. Either we have to immediately increase federal taxes by 64% (and that number goes up for every year we delay), immediately cut liabilities by 40% across the board (including entitlement benefits being paid now), or use a mix of both approaches to reach financial equilibrium. And that’s what we have to do just to stop further growth in our current national debt, let alone start paying it down.

Rest assured our cowardly politicians and idiot electorate(a significant portion of it anyway) will prevent any solutions from being implemented until it’s too late and entitlements will necessarily be gutted while taxes are hiked through the roof. It’s human nature. We tend to not deal with a problem until it becomes a full-blown crisis that demands our attention. The dilemma here is that every single American will get f’ed over by an economic collapse brought on by these kinds of unsustainable programs, I don’t care how rich you are.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

The phrase “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” is getting really old. We need something new. To keep up with the times, how about, “we’re f***ed”?

Paul-Cincy on August 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

The communist democrats are estatic. This is beyond their wildest dreams. Everything is going according to plan.

darwin on August 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

When 78 million Americans in the Baby Boomer generation retire, the resulting liabilities will take a whopping 85% of per-capita GDP to satisfy.

O_O

O_O

Starting to get that Linda Hamilton vibe at the end of “Terminator”.

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:10 AM

The money hole demands tribute!

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM

The U.S. fiscal gap, calculated (by us) using the Congressional Budget Office’s realistic long-term budget forecast — the Alternative Fiscal Scenario — is now $222 trillion.

That would come out to over $700,000 of debt per American, including today’s children.

Maybe we do need Paul Ryan for Romney’s VP, otherwise Greece is the word. Or an American Weimar Republic, and we know what the German one led to.

Steve Z on August 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM

And yet odds makers in Vegas say Obama will be re-elected. Stupidity or suicide?

MaiDee on August 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

That’s pretty much the only positive(if you can call it that) that I take away from the prospect of 4 more years of Obama. When(not if) the whole thing collapses, it’ll be on his watch and he’ll be forced to own up to it and deal with it. Oh sure, he’ll blame Bush, the GOP, Europe, earthquakes, tsunamis, you name it. But when the country is going to hell, even his most ardent supporters will want him to do something and they’re not gonna be very happy when they finally understand what we’ve known all along. That this guy doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM

A quarter quadrillion in debt is just not going to be paid. Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid are simply going to go away. The money simply does not exist, even if we were to take over Saudi Arabia and China.

rbj on August 9, 2012 at 10:12 AM

$740,000 for every man, woman and child in America????

What???

faraway on August 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Don’t worry. They take American Express.

Curtiss on August 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

To quote MKH: Fauq’d.

mikewor on August 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

It’s a non-problem. Fed printers can solve it in a few hours.

Archivarix on August 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

If people ever looked at this stuff honestly, you’d have to even call Paul Ryan a spendthrift. Even his is pretty weak medicine.

RBMN on August 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

The dilemma here is that every single American will get f’ed over by an economic collapse brought on by these kinds of unsustainable programs, I don’t care how rich you are.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

It’s not the rich’s national debt, it’s everyone’s debt. Senator Obama said it eloquently on the Senate floor in 2006:

Leadership means that the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

What a guy! /hope and change

Not just everyone, but those not yet born in particular.

Paul-Cincy on August 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

So the takeaway here is that every citizen and every company could be taxed at 100% and there still would not be enough money to pay all the bills the pols have rung up. When the system self-corrects we will be looking at Greece and saying “Hey, they have it pretty good over there.”

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Is that why they printing money. Lower the value so the debts don’t hit.

We all now exist for the shake of federal government…it’s going to get very ugly.

Oil Can on August 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

$740,000 for every man, woman and child in America????

What???

faraway on August 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Don’t worry. They take American Pineapple Express.

Curtiss on August 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Fixed it, for realism’s sake.

Archivarix on August 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Well, I’ll pay for my family’s share of the debt right now! They take checks, right?

search4truth on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Forget the trillion-dollar deficits for a moment.

Kind of hard to do that, but I’ll give it the old college try.

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Wait? So free stuff isn’t free?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

It’s not the rich’s national debt, it’s everyone’s debt. Senator Obama said it eloquently on the Senate floor in 2006:

Leadership means that the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

What a guy! /hope and change

Not just everyone, but those not yet born in particular.

Paul-Cincy on August 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Everyone will get screwed. The rich will be far less rich because you know the politicians will at least monetize some of our astronomical debt(they’ve already started with QE) which will destroy the dollar. The middle class will be wiped out by oppressive taxation. And the lower class can kiss their entitlements goodbye which leaves them with nothing. And that’s even taking into account the inevitability of civil unrest which could lead to the kind of suffering I don’t even wanna imagine.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:18 AM

This election should be about competing visions for the future of America, with solid policy supporting each vision. We just don’t have enough elections between now and when this crisis will hit to waste one.

Agreed. But, how do you engage the electorate on the issues that matter? Complex issues involving entitlement reform, budgetary priorities, fiscal responsibilty, and all sorts of other issues that require a lot more intelligence and discussion than the sexual life of slutty Georgetown law students or disgruntled union workers with an ax to grind?

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM

So the takeaway here is that every citizen and every company could be taxed at 100% and there still would not be enough money to pay all the bills the pols have rung up. When the system self-corrects we will be looking at Greece and saying “Hey, they have it pretty good over there.”
Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Equality!

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

They’re working later in life and paying into a system that has no hope of continuing to give out the benefits it’s promised. And on top of that, their delayed retirement is leading to fewer employment opportunities for younger workers which means they’re getting off to a much later start in life with regard to earning money which is disastrous for a consumer-driven economy such as ours. Oh and those young workers have a 0% chance of getting even a cent from Medicare or Social Security.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Thanks, I was worried there for a minute.

Night Owl on August 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.
libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Problem solved!

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

What is it about the word UNSUSTAINABLE that folks simply refuse to grasp ??
Methinks it’s identical to the union mindset …
“Screw da boss/company, and gimme my stuff !! No matter that my job will be eliminated completely when the company declares bankruptcy !! We will have screwed da boss !! Right ?? Right ??”

pambi on August 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

If people ever looked at this stuff honestly, you’d have to even call Paul Ryan a spendthrift. Even his is pretty weak medicine.

RBMN on August 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

The Ryan Plan is a good start but loses me in how long it extends and the proposed changes to Medicare makes it a ballot box bomb.

But, compared to the Democrat plan, it is genius. Haven’t seen the Dem plan for deficit reduction, entitlement reform, or fiscal responsibility? Seen the Dem budget proposals? Neither has anybody else.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

That would come out to over $700,000 of debt per American, including today’s children.

Steve Z on August 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM

But only 1/3 produce, so what you are really saying is that the WORKERS OWE $2,100,000.00.

Ha. Thats it, I quit paying anymore. Fu&^ em.
Kill em all God knows which are his.

orbitalair on August 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Much as Barry has accelerated the amount of debts in 3 and a half years, he did not run public debts up $222 trillions by himself. There is a lot of past politicians who are culpable.

bayview on August 9, 2012 at 10:26 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Yeah, wow, isn’t that great.

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Blame central planners.

This whole mess is their “vision” for society in practice.

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.
libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

So what’s the new retirement age to eliminate 200+ trillion in liabilities?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

How much would you like to shave off this $222 trillion, and $550,000 per person to make you happy?

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM

So what’s the new retirement age to eliminate 200+ trillion in liabilities?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

108.

If you don’t reach that age then the remaining balance of labor-years owed will be passed on to your family.

Certain people, however, will be exempt such as public unions and college faculty.

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Link or it didn’t happen. I am sick and tired of the unsupported claims you make all the time. Show us some real statistical analysis to back up your claim. A HuffPo article about a friend of a friend doesn’t count.

NotCoach on August 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

What is it about the word UNSUSTAINABLE that folks simply refuse to grasp ??

pambi on August 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Well, the word has “ain” in it and rhymes with Bain. Which, of course makes any use of the word part of a conspiracy by vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney, right?

Seriously, IMO I think a lot of it has to do with the political class that has developed. The people we send to Congress are more interested in getting re-elected than doing the right thing. It’s go along to get along in the House and Senate and hands-off the entitlement programs that are bankrupting the nation if you want another term. In short we elect a whole lot of people all of whom are putting their political careers ahead of the national interest.

The last act of political courage IMO was Ford pardoning Nixon (some would disagree). He did it to get the nation beyond Watergate even though it cost him the 1976 election. Today we see the worst of the worst as Obama decides to support same-sex marriage and fight reasonable energy policy for no other reason than he needs campaign funds from homosexual activists and environmentalists. This is not political courage.

None of this is going to change until we see a sea change in public opinion. We need the public to demand fiscal responsibility instead of the current idea that we can fix all our problems by raising taxes on the rich and corporations.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

If the gap is this wide there no chance in hell we will ever have the political discipline or will to do what is necessary to remedy (or even soften) the situation. The die is cast and the end game is as inevitably set as the stars in their courses. At this point everyone is just jockeying to be in position to snatch the last bag of gold off the train before it goes over the cliff. What they don’t know is we’ve already gone over the cliff – we are now just waiting to crash on the bottom.

tommyboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

O_O Guess I won’t buy that new car after all, or anything else, ever.

boomer on August 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

You really don’t get it, do you?

trigon on August 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

This will all blow over eventually.

Akzed on August 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

How much would you like to shave off this $222 trillion, and $550,000 per person to make you happy?

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Lorien, you forgot the most important part of your question. How much would you like to shave off this $222 trillion, and $550,000 per person to make you happy and how do you propose getting there? I’ve grown tired of people who complain about this stuff but are unwilling to give anything up to get there and whose only solution is taking more money from some other group.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Link or it didn’t happen. I am sick and tired of the unsupported claims you make all the time. Show us some real statistical analysis to back up your claim. A HuffPo article about a friend of a friend doesn’t count.

NotCoach on August 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

According to the Labor Department the number of Americans working over the age of 65 is at a record high, and they only see it going up.

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02000097

I didn’t think I needed proof of something that nearly everyone knows…

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Nothing real is going to happen until there is a total collapse. The adults will sweep up the ashes and we will start over with a clean slate. The world will look vastly different but we will survive.

Cosmop on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

At which point does the U.S. debt eat the entire worlds currencies?

maddmatt on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

So what’s the new retirement age to eliminate 200+ trillion in liabilities?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Math is hard.

oldroy on August 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM

According to the Labor Department the number of Americans working over the age of 65 is at a record high, and they only see it going up.

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02000097

I didn’t think I needed proof of something that nearly everyone knows…

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

How’s that “New Deal” and “Great Society” working out for everyone now?

Pretty good, eh?

Three cheers for utopianism!

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM

This number isn’t that scary when you think about how it is arrived at. It assumes nothing ever changes and counts all people living now as future entitlement collectors. Shift the cost burden and most of this government liability evaporates. Privatize SS and Medicare now, otherwise this theoretical terror will quickly become a real terror.

NotCoach on August 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Lorien, you forgot the most important part of your question. How much would you like to shave off this $222 trillion, and $550,000 per person to make you happy and how do you propose getting there? I’ve grown tired of people who complain about this stuff but are unwilling to give anything up to get there and whose only solution is taking more money from some other group.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

My comment was just about his retirement age statement. Lets say that boomers -are- working later. How much would that shave off $222 trillion dollars? That was my point.

You number you would shave off would be negligible in comparison to the overall number. It’d be a rounding error. At best.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:39 AM

108.

If you don’t reach that age then the remaining balance of labor-years owed will be passed on to your family.

Certain people, however, will be exempt such as public unions and college faculty.

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

The government can create a life credit – like a carbon credit – which certain people can use to pay off the years of labor they owe to the collective. Union members and liberal crony capitalists will get a steep discount of course.

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:39 AM

I didn’t think I needed proof of something that nearly everyone knows…

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I am seriously starting to doubt your claims to be a professor.

NotCoach on August 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

number you would shave off would be negligible in comparison to the overall number. It’d be a rounding error. At best.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:39 AM

True Dat.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

So we are all worried that we are about to go over the fiscal cliffs of insanity. But now we find that we’ve already been lowered down by a thin wire with no way to get back up?

oldroy on August 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

There is simply no way that the US can or will meet those obligations, even if we have another population boom, which seems unlikely. It’s practically the textbook definition of an empty promise.

Whoa…whoa…whoa…

Here’s an idea….
…let’s raise taxes on job creators……
…. spend trillions more than we take in……
…… pay education,housing,health care,and living expenses for illegal aliens from around the world……
…….gut our energy industry for ideological boondoggles…..
…………… demonize the successful people in this country……
….and continue to let a community organizer run the country into the ground.

Yea…yea…that’s the ticket….”Hope and Change”

Baxter Greene on August 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

According to the Labor Department the number of Americans working over the age of 65 is at a record high, and they only see it going up.

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02000097

I didn’t think I needed proof of something that nearly everyone knows…

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

So what’s the new retirement age to eliminate 200+ trillion in liabilities?

And…

They’re working later in life and paying into a system that has no hope of continuing to give out the benefits it’s promised. And on top of that, their delayed retirement is leading to fewer employment opportunities for younger workers which means they’re getting off to a much later start in life with regard to earning money which is disastrous for a consumer-driven economy such as ours. Oh and those young workers have a 0% chance of getting even a cent from Medicare or Social Security.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

According to the Labor Department the number of Americans working over the age of 65 is at a record high, and they only see it going up.

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02000097

I didn’t think I needed proof of something that nearly everyone knows…

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

And you think this is a good thing? I’m all for raising the retirement age on entitlements. But for seniors to be forced to remain in their jobs until they’re carried out in a bodybag does not speak well to the fiscal health of our nation.

Doughboy on August 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Thats wonderful to know. I think they are working mostly because the CoL is high. The only ones able to retire when they can for the most part are public union works because they gots the nice fact packages and do not need to worry about anything.

So what if they are working longer… they are also living longer too. Your only solution is to “tax” more.

I really think that until you and your fellow liberal buddies start getting bent over the barrel and take it from uncle Sam too… you will not give 2 rats (*( about the money problems this country faces.

watertown on August 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM

I am seriously starting to doubt your claims to be a professor.

NotCoach on August 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Not a science, engineering or mathematics professor.

You have to have a lot of education to be as stupid as libfreeordie.

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM

number you would shave off would be negligible in comparison to the overall number. It’d be a rounding error. At best.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:39 AM

And, there’s no reason to assume this data is not included in the provided numbers.

True. You so clever.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:44 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Also, explain to us how long private sector employees will have to work in order to fund the unsustainable pensions of public employees?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:44 AM

I’ve grown tired of people who complain about this stuff but are unwilling to give anything up to get there and whose only solution is taking more money from some other group.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I would be happy if I could just do away with it…. Just give me my money that I paid in the last 15+ years and let me be done with it and never have to pay into it again. This way if I am broke its my fault…. O wait, you mean they already spent all the money I paid into it already???

watertown on August 9, 2012 at 10:45 AM

You have to have a lot of education to be as stupid as libfreeordie.

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM

LiberalArtsFreeOrDie?

oldroy on August 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

You want to talk about money matters when we have very important issues to address?
#1 Ann Romney’s horse.
#2 Bain
#3 Romney’s High School pranks.
#4 Anything but National Debt.

Herb on August 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Also, explain to us how long private sector employees will have to work in order to fund the unsustainable pensions of public employees?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:44 AM

A big part of the fall of Rome, IIRC, is unsustainable civil service salaries and pensions. And then the Vandals came and stole all the copper fixtures … nothing like what’s going on now. /

Paul-Cincy on August 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

The government can create a life credit – like a carbon credit – which certain people can use to pay off the years of labor they owe to the collective. Union members and liberal crony capitalists will get a steep discount of course.

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:39 AM

A capital idea. BarkyCare can divert critical care funding to instead seek methods which will keep people alive longer no matter their condition. Even if your body has failed, your mind could be harnessed to a machine that would allow you to, I don’t know, cross-check information on IRS forms or something.

When everything finally fails your corpse will then be recycled into liquid nutrient sludge for tube-feeding those who are still alive.

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

SS was designed for an incredibly small number of people. To collect you had to be 1 year older than the avg life expectancy. If we were to re-institute men would need to be 79 women 83 before getting anything.

smitty41 on August 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Remind everyone, is there a difference in the social security tax payed by someone making 111,000 a year and someone making 5 million a year?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Nice, self-inflicted national bankruptcy thanks to crazy entitlement programs. And when President Obama took a look at our entitlement spending, his response was to leap into action and … pass another giant entitlement program. While his economic advisors started advocating ramping up inflation to “reduce” U.S. debt. You can’t make this stuff up.

JeremiahJohnson on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Remind everyone, is there a difference in the social security tax payed by someone making 111,000 a year and someone making 5 million a year?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:49 AM

So you’re for means testing for Social Security, then?

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

What’s dishonest about this analysis is the fact that the baby boomers are working much later into their senior years than previous generations.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Also, the participation rate is at an all time low; so far fewer people are putting into Social Security than have in the past.

Seriously, do you think you’ll ever get over $600,000 in benefits from this program? If not, why would you want to pay into it? The government forcing you to lose money – isn’t this the exact idea it was trying to prevent?

This is the thing with you big government types. You cannot acknowledge when a program is failing or has failed. You cannot accept when a politician (Obama, etal) is a failure or even if a minor program is a failure. Since you cannot and since nothing is 100% successful, no one is going to trust big government – since it does tell the truth to people. It’s that simple. If you truly believe in big government, you have to be honest about its failures – when it does. Because it does and will.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

So you’re for means testing for Social Security, then?

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

He’s for removing the caps on SS deductions.

Which will, of course, raise the funds to keep the program solvent for another 2 seconds or so.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:51 AM

In totally unrelated news, the USPS is defaulting on its pensions. Soon to spread. We are Greece; just a few years behind that’s all.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Remind everyone, is there a difference in the social security tax payed by someone making 111,000 a year and someone making 5 million a year?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Do you see no problem with a $222 Trillion gap. As you say, “nearly everyone knows” this is not attainable. Even at 100% tax rate for all this is not attainable. Ready to cough up your entire salary and retirement? All of it?

oldroy on August 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

We can solve this problem by forcing the rich to pay their fair share.

-Obama

The Rogue Tomato on August 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

We are in a dire situation, but the authors of the article are using a nonsense measure they invented themselves a couple of years ago. Their invented term “Fiscal Gap” ranges forever forward in time. In other words, their “fiscal gap” measures the cumulative buget deficit from now until the end of time, or whenver they choose to draw a line at 500 years or 5,000 years from now.

In other words, their “fiscal gap” number is meaningless beyond reminding us of something basic we already knew: we need to balance the federal budget. Cut spending, but don’t be suckered by such people using entirely made up numbers.

AngusMc on August 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Those are raw numbers that tell us nothing. We have a aging population, so of course more seniors are working. But what percentage of those 65 or over are working. Put your professor cap back on and try a little harder.

NotCoach on August 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM

In totally unrelated news, the USPS is defaulting on its pensions. Soon to spread. We are Greece; just a few years behind that’s all.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

That one is an artificially manufactured crisis caused by government interference. The feds have asked the USPS to 100% fund in advance all of its pension obligations for the next 75 years by the end of this year. No other organization on earth is asked to do this — they logically are only required to fund 75 years of pension obligations over 75 years. Government screwing up government even more than normal.

AngusMc on August 9, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Remind everyone, is there a difference in the social security tax payed by someone making 111,000 a year and someone making 5 million a year?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Oh, so we’re going to get 200+ trillion dollars from millionaires.
Brilliant.

What’s the SS tax going to have to be on the rich to fund 200+ trillion?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:58 AM

This is the thing with you big government types. You cannot acknowledge when a program is failing or has failed. You cannot accept when a politician (Obama, etal) is a failure or even if a minor program is a failure. Since you cannot and since nothing is 100% successful, no one is going to trust big government – since it does tell the truth to people. It’s that simple. If you truly believe in big government, you have to be honest about its failures – when it does. Because it does and will.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I think you mean that’s the thing with our political class. Apologies, acknowledgement of weakness or failure are things politicians have beaten out of them (in party by voters who understand acknowledgement of weakness as a weakness itself). I’m all for constantly reforming government programs so that they can respond to shifting economic and demographic trends. Social Security has basically functioned in the same way since the New Deal, that is hugely problematic. What I can say about progressives is that we’re skeptical that purely private solutions are good for the society as a whole. What, for example, would retirees do if they had been in a purely private system and been planning on cashing out during the savings and loans crisis of the 80s, during Enron, during the dot com bubble bursting, telecom bubble bursting or the housing market bubble bursting. We’d have a lot of dependent seniors with no safety net to fall back on. There has to be a way to reform the system without scrapping it entirely.

So you’re for means testing for Social Security, then?

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Ha! Not falling for that one. Everyone knows that means testing Social Security would make it massively unpopular.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

He’s for removing the caps on SS deductions.

Which will, of course, raise the funds to keep the program solvent for another 2 seconds or so.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:51 AM

You’re also assuming that the money put into SS would actually go to SS benefits.

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

He’s for removing the caps on SS deductions.

Which will, of course, raise the funds to keep the program solvent for another 2 seconds or so.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Ah, yes.

Of course, just cutting off payees that don’t need SS would also help without having to raise taxes. Which, of course, makes it unacceptable to Democrats.

Good Lt on August 9, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Obama has a solution. Just print more money. Problem solved. Just ask Mugabe.

GarandFan on August 9, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Oh, so we’re going to get 200+ trillion dollars from millionaires.
Brilliant.

What’s the SS tax going to have to be on the rich to fund 200+ trillion?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 10:58 AM

You’re pretending the entire 200 trillion is from social security?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

AngusMc on August 9, 2012 at 10:58 AM

I think it’s partially a ploy to get stamp prices higher, quicker. Since it’s not a tax, you can’t say they raised taxes and since it’s the USPS doing it, you cannot blame congress.

Same reason they love a VAT. It’s the retailer “raising prices” – not government. Since it’s factored into the cost of goods.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Remind everyone, is there a difference in the social security tax payed by someone making 111,000 a year and someone making 5 million a year?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Remind everyone, do most people making 5 million a year ever collect a dime of social security?

So, why should they pay as much as someone making 111,000 a year? And why should a person making 45,000, who will almost certainly collect social security, not pay more in social security taxes than a person making 111,000, to enjoy that right in the future, when others will have to pay for them to collect social security, at a rate that exceeds what they paid into the program?

milcus on August 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Ha! Not falling for that one. Everyone knows that means testing Social Security would make it massively unpopular.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Because it’s currently popular among young tax payers who don’t expect to ever see a cent from it?

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 11:02 AM

I would be happy if I could just do away with it…. Just give me my money that I paid in the last 15+ years and let me be done with it and never have to pay into it again. This way if I am broke its my fault…. O wait, you mean they already spent all the money I paid into it already???

watertown on August 9, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Yep, that lockbox contains nothing but a bunch of IOUs.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Which will, of course, raise the funds to keep the program solvent for another 2 seconds or so.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Congressional Research Service disagrees.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM

You’re pretending the entire 200 trillion is from social security?

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Most of it’s from entitlements. Medicare more than SS but the principle still stands. You’d be spouting the same bromides regardless of which entitlement we’re talking about.

gwelf on August 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Remind everyone, do most people making 5 million a year ever collect a dime of social security?

So, why should they pay as much as someone making 111,000 a year?

And there you have it. Apparently “big solutions” to our fiscal cliff must only emerge from the right. Which is, of course, why none of our political leaders are interested in tackling the issue.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM

There has to be a way to reform the system without scrapping it entirely.

libfreeordie on August 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

There isn’t. It’s done. You can raise taxes to 100%, and you cannot cover the layouts. There aren’t enough workers for retirees anymore. It’s nearing 2:1, it used to be like 13:1. The math just doesn’t work.

SS was never -ever- designed to pay out benefits. Never was. It was a scam from day one. Originally the retirement age was to be -above- the average life expectancy of people, so it didn’t have to pay out benefits.

I’m sorry that you’ve accepted the lie. I am. I’m sorry. And I don’t know what to do about retirees that were lied to. I don’t.

But the lie is over. It’s time for a grim reality.

lorien1973 on August 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM

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