Sustaining the Unsustainable

Walter Russell Mead on all those state-level budget surpluses:

California, for example, expects a surplus of $1.2-4.4 billion this year. This is good news not for taxpayers but for the state’s teachers’ pension fund, which is owed $4.5 billion in unpaid promises. Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) of Hawaii claims to have turned a $200 million deficit into a $300 million surplus, but his state remains a whopping $13 billion short of promised health care costs to retired workers. Even red states like Texas are locked into rising pension and health care costs and commitments that are set to eat up any new revenue: last year, Texas contributed less than half of what’s needed to fund state worker pensions, and more than half of its new $8.8 billion surplus is needed to pay Medicaid costs.

The public sector is absolutely crushing this country, and yet the only thing keeping us afloat is regular injections of more.