A Pachyderm in the Parlor

I have been frustrated that the Obama campaign hasn’t used to greater advantage the fact that so many defined benefit pension plans are letting down the retirees of rust belt industrial companies (GM being the poster child).  In his piece for the Washington Post, George Will reminds that the bigger aggregate problem is likely the defined benefit plans of public employees–teachers, fire fighters, state, municipal and county employees. 

CSFB says the aggregate unfunded liability at this level is $1.5 trillion–an amount equivalent to roughly 15% of the national debt.  Unlike the national debt, however, all of this tidy sum has been promised (remember that word?)  to real American humans over the next 20-40 years.

I haven’t read Roger Lowenstein’s new book, which Will references, but I–uh–will.


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