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White Paper on U.S. Government Debt and Competitiveness

The United States federal government's current and projected fiscal deficits are not sustainable. No country, even one as wealthy and resourceful as the United States, can continue to run annual deficits that significantly outpace the growth of the economy. However, addressing our nation's shorter-term deficits is in many ways easier, and less important, than coping with the explosive growth in U.S. federal government debt and unfunded obligations. The public debt reported on the nation's balance sheet massively understates the entirety of its existing commitments for items such as future civilian and military pensions and retiree healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, and a range of other huge promised government obligations and guarantees. The gap between what the government measures today as its debt, and what it should be measuring helps to conceal the true problem, which enables political leaders to delay taking the difficult but sensible actions today.

In the White Paper, “Government Debt and Competitiveness,” Robert S. Kaplan, Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, and David M. Walker, Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former Comptroller General of the United States, seek to correct this deficiency in the debate about the magnitude of the debt problem by identifying all the debt and obligations that the U.S. government has already assumed, as of September 30, 2012, as well as seek to explain how these mounting obligations affect our country's current and future economic competitiveness.

Read the White Paper, “Government Debt and Competitiveness.”

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