Kotlikoff: Real Federal Debt is $239 trillion

Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.

Kotlikoff in the WSJ: Myths of Warrenomics

Elizabeth Warren economic advisers say the rich pay the lowest tax rates of all. Laurence Kotlikoff says they are wrong. Using the most sophisticated tools available to economists, Kotlikoff finds that among 40-year-olds, the top 1% face a lifetime average net tax rate of 34.5 percent. Yet when positive and negative taxes (benefits) are included, the poorest fifth are facing a rate of – 46.6 percent. For every dollar people in the bottom fifth earn, they get 46.6 cents back from the government. More.

Kotlikoff: Family Endures 13 Years of Social Security Abuse

Over the past 13 years, Mrs. Jimmy Rogers and her husband have, been deprived of tens of thousands of dollars in Social Security disability and spousal benefits, thanks to Social Security’s acknowledged mistakes. Jimmy has been forced to pay extra Social Security payroll taxes and extra federal income taxes she didn’t owe. And the government is still, to this day, sending them a bill for over $120,000 for disability and spousal benefits that they rightfully received. More.

Kotlikoff: The Case for a Carbon Tax

Even climate deniers should be receptive to a carbon tax that is more than offset by reductions in other taxes. The total tax burden would be lower and we would be buying insurance against the bad effects of climate change. So argues Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff in The Hill. More.

Kotlikoff: The Banking System is Ripping Off Ordinary Depositors

The Federal Reserve is paying banks 2.35 percent on their reserves. Banks are paying depositors only 0.06 percent. Competition would eliminate that gap and sensible reform would eliminate the risk of another Great Recession, says economist Laurence Kotlikoff. He points to a “narrow banking” reform, which he first proposed with John Goodman in The New Republic ten years ago. More.

The $3.4 Trillion Retirees Aren’t Getting From Social Security

Bad Social Security Choices Cost the Average Elderly Household $111,000. United Income, a financial planning advisory service, just released an important study called, “The Retirement Solution Hiding In Plain Sight.” Using government data and proprietary software, it calculates how much money retirees have lost, and are losing, by making mistakes about when to start claiming Social Security benefits. United Income’s answer: a whopping $3.4 trillion or $111,000 per household! More at:

Laurence Kotlikoff, The $3.4 Trillion Retirees Aren’t Getting From Social Security

Laurence Kotlikoff, Is Social Security Being Hacked? The Wildly Incorrect Social Security Benefit Statement Mystery

One of the nation’s leading authorities on Social Security says the system is sending out faulty information to workers, who are trying to plan for their retirement. Social Security told one worker that if he retired at age 66 he would get the monthly benefit he would actually receive only if he waited until age 70. It told him that if he retired at age 62, he would get a benefit that would actually be paid only if he waited until age 66. Kotlikoff says he has confronted the Social Security administration with the mistakes and has not received a response. More at:

Laurence Kotlikoff, Social Security is Mailing Out Incorrect Benefit Statements

Laurence Kotlikoff, Is Social Security Being Hacked? The Wildly Incorrect Social Security Benefit Statement Mystery