The Fiscal Abyss

David Brooks is absolutely right to focus on the pipe-dream that cutting healthcare costs can solve the fiscal crisis Obama inherited from Bush that has metastasized with the recession. Bruce Bartlett has even grimmer news after looking at the new trustees' reports on social security and Medicare:

To summarize, we see that taxpayers are on the hook for Social Security and Medicare by these amounts: Social Security, 1.3% of GDP; Medicare part A, 2.8% of GDP; Medicare part B, 2.8% of GDP; and Medicare part D, 1.2% of GDP. This adds up to 8.1% of GDP. Thus federal income taxes for every taxpayer would have to rise by roughly 81% to pay all of the benefits promised by these programs under current law over and above the payroll tax.

Since many taxpayers have just paid their income taxes for 2008 they may have their federal returns close at hand. They all should look up the total amount they paid and multiply that figure by 1.81 to find out what they should be paying right now to finance Social Security and Medicare.

Something's gotta give, Mr President. Time for some honesty. Don't be like that last guy. Denial doesn't suit you.