Trump Promises Us More Money; That’s the Bad News

Kevin Williamson has good news and bad news regarding Trump and entitlements. The bad news is that Trump promises to increase Social Security payments:

In an interview with Fox and Friends on Tuesday, Trump suggested that we should pay Social Security dependents more than we currently do. “The people are not making it on Social Security,” he said. “It’s a very big problem. We’ll take care of it.”

The implication: he would dole out more money. But there isn’t any more money. That’s why his promise is bad news.

Under current policy, the unfunded liabilities of Social Security right now are about $25 trillion. (Conservatively; different assumptions will of course produce different results.) Say “$25 trillion” to most people and you may as well be saying “$25 billion” or “$25 gazillion” or “$25 googol” (that’s $25.00 x 10 to the hundredth power for you English majors out there) — most people have trouble mentally processing such large numbers. So, here’s a handy comparison: If you took all of the money deposited in all of the banks in the United States and then doubled it, that’s how short we are on Social Security alone. That’s one program.

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It’s not even the biggest program; Medicare is a still more massive Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

A group of economists including 15 Nobel laureates estimated our total long-term unfunded liabilities a few years back at $222 trillion. How big is that number? It’s about three times the total net worth of all U.S. households combined, which includes all of the directly and indirectly held shares they have in U.S. corporations. It is just shy of the entire stock of wealth held by the human race, not just money and financial instruments and real estate, houses, cars, vintage sneaker collections, etc.

Sometimes, progressives confronted with those numbers will retort: “Well, that’s over a 75-year timeline!” or “That’s over an infinite time horizon!” And that is true. But those unfunded liabilities are not the difference between our future obligations and current assets but rather are the difference between our future obligations and our projected future assets. Economic growth will not get us out of this mess, because economic growth already is incorporated into the calculations.

With that in mind, ask yourself this question: Given that the shortfall of our total future government obligations — not the obligations themselves, just how short we are of paying them — almost equals the entire stock of wealth accumulated by the entire human race over the course of its history, what do you imagine the chances are that those obligations will be paid out in the future at their present value?

Don’t ask me to show my work here, but I’m going to go with something in the neighborhood of 0.0000000 percent.

The good news? Williamson believes that Trump is merely telling people lies that will sound pleasant to their ears in order to get elected. Chances are that he has no intention of increasing benefits when it would only hasten the USA going as bankrupt as one of his casinos.

But the odds of Trump taking meaningful action to reform entitlements, so as to prevent national insolvency a decade or two down the road, come in right around 0.0000000% too.

trump money
Then again, maybe he is heedless enough to keep his word.

On a tip from Torcer. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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