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A Truly Smart Idea Republicans and Democrats Actually Agree On (No, Seriously)

A Truly Smart Idea Republicans and Democrats Actually Agree On (No, Seriously)
Photograph by Paul Rojas/Getty Images

Worried about the economic future of your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren? Brace yourself for a big number. By one prominent economist’s calculation, the U.S. federal government faces a long-term “fiscal gap”—the difference between projected future expenditures and receipts—of about $200 trillion.

This sounds like the kind of thing that’s embraced by deficit hawks and small-government types on the Right and strongly resisted by most Democrats. In fact, the fiscal gap is a nonpartisan accounting concept. Twelve winners of the Nobel prize for economics have endorsed a bill to require the federal government to do an official annual calculation of the fiscal gap (as opposed to the $200 trillion figure, which is a rough and unofficial estimate). The luminary endorsers of the bill, who rarely find common ground on political issues, include liberal Kenneth Arrow and conservative Robert Lucas.