(The Atlantic) Wanna scare somebody about America’s debt on the eve of the Fiscal Cliff? I mean, really scare somebody? Here’s a trick. Don’t talk about the debt. Talk about “unfunded liabilities.”
The U.S. national debt comes out to about $16 trillion today. That’s something. But it’s nothing compared to the extra $87 trillion in unfunded liabilities to Social Security, Medicare, and federal pensions. Here’s how that works. If you add up all of the U.S. government’s promises to pay retirement and health care benefits for the next 75 years and subtract the projected tax revenue dedicated to those programs over the next 75 years, there is a gap. A $87 trillion gap — in addition to a $16 billion hole.