A reader writes:
Though there is some truth to Mankiw's and the excerpted CBO analysis, both neglect a major point: the cost of providing health insurance to retirees. One of the automaker’s chief problems is the cost of retiree health insurance. Because of the dramatic increase in the cost of insurance, and because of longer life expectancies, commitments to provide insurance for retirees has proved far more expensive than expected. While an employer can accurately budget for current employees’ wages and health insurance, there is no way to know what retiree heath expenses will look like 10, 20, 30 years in the future, and for this reason employers and consumers bear these costs whereas retirees do not.