USA Today reporter Dennis Cauchon is an expert at distilling complex data about governments down to bite-size pieces. Today he finds that:
Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That's nearly $500,000 per household.
When obligations of state and local governments are added, the total rises to $61.7 trillion, or $531,472 per household. That is more than four times what Americans owe in personal debt such as mortgages.
Kudos to USA Today for running such hard-data stories on the front page. Too many newspapers opt for the "human interest" angle when reporting on government economic policy.
Cauchon's data raises many questions. For one, how could governments have gotten away with imposing $62 trillion of unfunded obligations on young Americans?
At the state and local level, taxpayers have been sleeping as union-backed politicians have jacked-up compensation levels for the nation's 16 million state and local workers.
The Washington Post pointed to an example of state and local irresponsibly yesterday. The paper lambasted Montgomery County, Maryland, for its "staggeringly generous" compensation increases for county workers, increases that will add to the $62 trillion total and likely push up county taxes down the road.