The Entitlement Bubble: The Bust Is Going to Be a Nightmare - Exchequer - National Review Online: "In the course of arguing that our real national debt is around $130 trillion — as opposed to the official number of $14.7 trillion — I have frequently encountered the argument that I’m wrong to include unfunded entitlement liabilities in the total. Here’s a typical example from the comments to this post:
Kevin Williamson, expected spending 75 years in the future, based on current policies and projects that are certain to change anyway, is NOT debt. No amount of calling it “debt” or calling it “our REAL debt” changes that fact. Project funding gaps are not debt. DEBT is debt.
About that, a few things.
The first and most obvious thing is that in much of the real world, liabilities of that type are defined as debt, as your favorite corporate accountant will tell you. One of the reasons that American companies started filing all those unhappy financial restatements after the passage of Obamacare was that they had a whole lot of new, measurable, real-world financial liabilities, and they are obliged to include those in their disclosures."