If a $14.3 trillion national debt sounds like a staggering sum, economist Lawrence Kotlikoff's estimate of the nation's real long-term indebtedness might bowl you over. Kotlikoff, who was a senior economist on President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, calculates the debt at $211 trillion.
"We have all these unofficial debts that are massive compared to the official debt," Kotlikoff, a professor at Boston University, said on the weekend edition of National Public Radio's All Things Considered. "If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures," Kotlikoff said, "and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That's the fiscal gap. That's our true indebtedness."
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