“…the longer we put [a solution] off the more we make the world nervous, the higher the interest rates are going to be, the quicker we’re going to have to face a day of horrible calamity.  So just the act of compromise itself… would give us even more time, would allow both sides even longer to spread out the pain, to reach even more compromise down the road… [It’s] a math problem – a really solvable math problem.” — Adam Davidson, host of NPR’s Planet Money

The Case for Asteroid Status

Entitlement spending, dominated by healthcare spending through Medicare, is unsustainable at expected levels of growth. Driven by this spending – according to Congressional Budget Office projections – federal debt held as a percentage of GDP will rise from approximately 80% currently to over 280% by 2050 after baby boomers reach retirement age. This problem will get exponentially harder to solve the longer we ignore it.


Face the Facts USA: American longevity draining Medicare

  • In the thirty years between 1980 and 2010, the number of Medicare beneficiaries rose from 28.3 million to 47.3 million.
  • In 1980, $33 billion were paid out in benefits, in 2010 that number was $514 billion – going from 5.88% of federal spending to 15.1%.
  • Today Americans are living four years longer than they did in 1965 when Medicare began.

Face the Facts USA:



Mother Jones:  The State of Pensions in America by Kevin Drum

National Affairs: Beyond the Welfare State by Yuval Levin – “All over the developed world, nations are coming to terms with the fact that the social-democratic welfare state is turning out to be untenable.”

U.S. News & World Report: The Shocking Truth on Entitlements


A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic by Nicholas Eberstadt

The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek (“Morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it…” John Maynard Keynes)


Jonathan Haidt’s TED.com Asteroids Club presentation PowerPoint slides related to entitlement spending: download here.

The Telescope

Is the problem really entitlement spending or is it really more specifically rising healthcare costs?  Find this argument here:  Kevin Drum writing in Mother Jones: Washington Doesn’t Have a Spending Problem. It Has a Health Care Problem. Period.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times: Dwindling Deficit Disorder

Proposed Solutions

The New York Times: O.K. you fix the budget; includes a budget deficit puzzle where you actually try to fix the budget!

Contribute your sources here.