We were not aware at the time that they were twilight years, that time just before Roe v. Wade was decided, when statutes on abortion were sustained in the courts and only occasionally struck down. That is in part why …
I admire all of Michael Greve’s essay and agree with much of it. Like him, I worry about the long-term solvency of the United States. Like him, I doubt the capacity of partisan politics as currently structured to address that …
Yesterday’s post, on the seemingly unstoppable growth of federal transfer payments to state and local governments, ended on a question: what happens when both parties to the transaction, the states and the feds confront unsustainable commitments? The brilliant answer our federalism has produced: make yet more unsustainable commitments. Why? Read on to find out.
President Obama didn’t discuss the nation’s massive, swelling debt in his State of the Union address. Mitch Daniels did, and good for him: the flood of red ink really is the Niagara. Our accelerating drift toard the cliff, moreover, entails not only fiscal and economic but also institutional and constitutional consequences of grave import. State and local debts are a comparatively small tributary to the great stream, but they illustrate the point.
State and local debts are composed of about upwards of $4 trillion in unfunded pension obligations; upwards of a half-trillion in other pension benefit obligations (mostly for health benefits), also unfunded; and about $2.9 trillion in municipal (state and local bonds). These debts will not be paid (at least not in real dollars), because they cannot be paid. The question is how and to whom our federal system is going to administer the haircut—and what changes it is likely to undergo in the process.
Today’s post deals with the background causes and conditions of state debt; tomorrow’s, with federal bailouts; Monday’s, with fiscal federalism’s future. (It’s not the EU. It’s Argentina.) Read more