A reporter once asked Dr. Arthur Jones, the eccentric inventor of the Nautilus brand of fitness equipment, why he kept such a large gun collection in his home. Jones told the interviewer, “Guns are a lot like tourniquets. You don’t need ’em often, but when you do, you need ’em in a hurry.”Jones’ theory of immediacy conjures up visions of our current trio of presidential contenders attempting to construct any type of meaningful reform, whether it be revamping the Tax Code or establishing a universal health care system. The problem is that none of the triumvirate quite knows whether implementing change of any size will require a gun (figuratively, of course) or a tourniquet. Perhaps both.
Although Comptroller General David Walker stepped down earlier in March, his “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour” — where he warned audiences of the trillions in unfunded liabilities that lie ahead — should remain for many a very uncomfortable reminder. By Walker’s and the Government Accountability Office’s estimates, the aggregate costs of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security exceed projected revenue by more than $50 trillion over the next 75 years. Even if you exclude the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the country is staring down the barrel of a debt projection whose numbers exceed the comprehension of most mortals.
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