Fiscal policy discussions generally focus on current-year budget deficits, the accumulated national debt, and the relationships between these two items and gross domestic product. We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities.
What can't continue, won't. The saddest thing? Cox and Archer were on President Clinton's 1994 commission on reforming entitlements. We've gone almost a whole generation since then, eighteen years. And we've done nothing. As Paul Ryan used to say (whatever happened to him?) this is the most obvious and avoidable economic disaster in human history. And yet we beat on, boats against the current.