Issues
Federal
State
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Members of the Institute are often asked what important issues face the nation.  Here's a list of several we consider important. 

Federal:

1. The accumulating federal debt of more than $59 trillion dollars.  This includes explicit debt, debt internal to the federal government and the net present value of the current statutory entitlements.  What's worse, the debt grows at $2-3 trillion each year.  The debt grow $5 trillion in 2008 alone.

2. The aging baby-boomers will put extraordinary pressure on the nation's economy as they begin to collect on the social programs to which they are entitled.  The combination of increasing medical costs, the extension of life expectancies and the sheer number of beneficiaries makes this situation unsustainable.

3. The trade imbalance with the rest of the world.  Essentially we are consuming more than we produce and the consequence is that we must spend about 1% of all the wealth America has ever accumulated to foreigners, every year.  Symptoms of this problem include a falling dollar, higher oil prices, and a long-term decline in national living standards.

4. Accounting principles and metrics our government uses to explain our financial condition are deficient and do not provide objective and comprehensive understanding of our fiscal challenges.

5. The lack of solutions to solve these problems indicates the largest problem—a lack of political will to solve them.  This leadership vacuum is the biggest challenge we face and it occurs because no constituency for sustainability exists.

State:

For a detailed explanation about state issues please see 
"The Truth About Balanced Budgets:  A Fifty State Study"

1. States are taking on responsibilities that they are financially incapable of funding.

2. State legislators are often unaware of the long-term costs and consequences of their spending programs and why they are creating unsustainable fiscal trajectories. 

3. State and local governments continue to use obsolete accounting standards to justify programs that would not be acceptable with truthful accrual accounting.

4. No constituency for sustainable government exists.