On May 23, 2011, Josh Barro, Andrew Biggs, Dean Baker, and Elizabeth McNichol, with moderator Charles Lane of the Washington Post, met to discuss whether the public pension situation constitutes a crisis, and, if so, what steps we should be taking to address it.
Estimates of state and local government liabilities owed to public pension beneficiaries range from hundreds of billions of dollars to more than $3 trillion. Experts disagree over the proper assumptions for measuring these liabilities. Usually a long-term problem, now governments are seeing near-term negative effects on their budgets. How important is pension reform for the fiscal health of state and local governments? All these questions were discussed and debated in this Manhattan Institute/e21 forum.