November 26, 2012, 6:41 p.m. ET
Cox and Archer: Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt
Hiding the government's liabilities from the public makes it seem that we can tax our way out of mounting deficits. We can't.
By CHRIS COX AND BILL ARCHER
The U.S. Treasury "balance sheet" does list liabilities such as Treasury debt issued to the public, federal employee pensions, and post-retirement health benefits. But it does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized and very real obligations.
As of the most recent Trustees' report in April, the net present value of the unfunded liability of Medicare was $42.8 trillion. The comparable balance sheet liability for Social Security is $20.5 trillion.
Mr. Cox, a former chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is president of Bingham Consulting LLC. Mr. Archer, a former chairman of