PERC Blog


Authored by PERC staff, the PERC Blog focuses on policy issues including fiscal policy, Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs, income inequality and Federal Reserve policy.

Federal Liabilities and Individual Assets: The Case of Social Security

Posted: March 01, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Each spring or early summer, the Social Security and Medicare Trustees issue their annual reports on the status of the programs’ Trust Funds. The news stories that follow primarily focus on the year when the Trust Funds will be exhaust...

The Cost of Democratic Socialism

Posted: February 20, 2019 by Svetozar Pejovich
A defining feature of the 20th century was the struggle between capitalism and three major types of socialism: Communism, national socialism, and fascism. All three types of socialisms, as well as Cuba and Venezuela today, failed to duplicate the accomplishments of capitalism in raising the standard of living. Yet, a supposed new brand of social...

The Little-Known Fact That Will Make the National Debt Even Harder to Tackle

Posted: December 19, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
The federal government is skirting dangerous shoals with an irresponsible fiscal policy. We are running massive budget deficits in a booming peacetime economy. These deficits are increasing our federal debt—which means we are also paying more to service the debt and more interest on every dollar of debt. While the Federal Reserve has be...

Pensions Rescued by Borrowing: What Could Go Wrong with That?

Posted: October 02, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
A Tale of Two Cities   The dominant form of pensions for public sector workers are defined benefit plans. Such plans typically specify a retirement age and a benefit formula that determines the yearly payment to retirees. The benefit formulas are based on the number of years of employment, the average of their...

How Not to Solve the Problem of Trade Deficits

Posted: July 09, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The U.S. has run persistent trade deficits since the early 1990s and the annual trade deficit has increased to $566 billion in 2017.  This has raised concerns that our trading partners are taking advantage of us.  Since March, President Trump has roared about our trade deficit with China, equal to $375 billion in 2017, as well as China...

Riding the Spending Wave

Posted: July 06, 2018 by Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released long-term forecast does not paint a pretty picture of the federal government’s financial future.  Deficits are expected in all future years as federal spending grows faster than tax revenues. The aging of the US population combined with rapidly growing per capita health care sp...

Social Security Trust Fund Underscores Need for Reform

Posted: July 03, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
The Social Security Trust Fund is basically an interest-bearing I.O.U. from the U.S. Treasury to the U.S. Social Security Administration.  As long as general revenue is used to cover all shortfalls in Social Security taxes, the trust fund plays no important economic role in allocating resources, but may highlight the need for reform...

Fiddling While Rome Burns?

Posted: June 05, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Economists often counsel that we should look at 'revealed preferences,' the idea that actions speak louder than words.  What does this viewpoint tell us about our commitment to fiscal responsibility since last January? Recent actions by Congress have both lowered tax revenues and raised previously set spending caps....

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