Friday, May 19, 2006

Promises made that cannot be kept

Writing on Asymmetrical Info, “Winterspeak” notes that state governments now have to explicitly take into accounting the massive future liability of healthcare expenses:

I like this step because it does not change any part of the entitlement process, which is politically problematic, it's simply more honest and upfront about costs. I'd like to see the same thing happen to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I don't think those systems can be reformed without first making their costs explicit.
Well put. The present unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare range between $60 and $70 trillion. (That’s “trillion” with a “T”.) Americans are going to get the first taste of the entitlement tsunami when payments start to outpace revenues and the Social Security trust fund starts to cash in T-bills. Then, instead of using the surplus to mask the true size of the budget deficit, the Treasury will have to (somehow) find the cash to cover those securities. From then on, the problem will just continue to snowball.

Sad to say, I don’t believe that putting these liabilities “on the books” would change anything in Washington.

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