(NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE) — There is a growing sense in the minds of Americans that we, as a nation, are reenacting the dramatic climax of Thelma and Louise: The pedal’s to the metal, the car’s gaining speed, and we are about to plunge into the abyss. The abyss is not the Grand Canyon, of course, but its fiscal equivalent — national bankruptcy. Americans are finally waking up to the fact that our government has been — and still is — on an unsustainable spending spree. According to the International Monetary Fund, our gross debt — which passed the $13 trillion mark in June — is now at 92.6 percent of GDP, and is projected to surpass our GDP (meaning the debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed 100 percent) by 2012.
As bad as that seems, however, even the gross-debt figure does not capture just how serious the situation is, for it does not include the growing costs of our three largest entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. When the unfunded liabilities of these programs are added to the gross debt, the figure rises from $13 trillion to a mind-blowing $60 trillion.