Ticking Time Bomb
USA Today examines the financial ticking time bomb that is the public workers pension system. Thanks to the handiwork of the union bosses America's fiscal ledger is starting to look like Greece: Even the most casual observers know the federal government has a serious debt problem that's propelling the USA toward the same cliff as Greece. Less well known is that certain states and localities are even worse off. Or at least their problems are coming to a head sooner, as they have fewer options for kicking the proverbial can down the road. States can't print money, and they have limits on borrowing. Much of their shortfall, moreover, is the result of pension obligations that are binding contracts, not just political promises. The looming shortfalls were hidden in recent years through a combination of outright deceit and overly rosy projections for annual investment returns. But the truth is now emerging. Last month, a panel from Stanford University concluded that California's public employee pensions were underfunded by $500 billion. That's about $35,700 per California household. Nationally, the American Enterprise Institute estimates that state pension funds are more than $3 trillion short.