Liabilities for Retiree Benefits Exceed $57T
U.S. taxpayers have liabilities of more than $500,000 per household for health care and other benefits for retirees promised by federal, state and local governments, USA Today reports. According to a USA Today analysis based on official government reports, federal, state and local governments increased taxpayer liabilities by about $10 trillion during the past two years to $57.8 trillion, or about $510,678 per household.
The $57.8 trillion in taxpayer liabilities represents the amount that governments currently require to raise an adequate amount of interest to cover the cost, valued in 2006 dollars, of benefits promised to retirees in the future, USA Today reports. In the past two years, taxpayer liabilities increased by 20%, 13% higher than the inflation rate, according to USA Today.
According to USA Today, "Payments on this delinquent tax bill must start soon if financial promises to the elderly are to be kept" because the "cost of retirement program will start to soar" when baby boomers become eligible for Social Security in 2008 and Medicare in 2011.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a member of the House Budget Committee, said, "This is a monster financial problem that both parties are going to have to solve. Most Americans and Congress members don't realize the terrific burden we are putting on future generations."
Ed Lorenzen, policy director for the Concord Coalition, said, "These numbers show our long-term financial problems are even greater than our short-term ones."
Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said, "If we don't fix health care, it's hard to imagine what our country looks like in 20 years" (Cauchon, USA Today, 5/25).