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Is There A Public Pension Crisis?

Monday May 2011

Speakers: Josh Barro, Walter B. Wriston Fellow, Manhattan Institute
Dean Baker, Co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Andrew Biggs, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Elizabeth Mcnichol, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Moderator: Charles Lane, Editorial Writer, The Washington Post

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, governments are now seeing near-term negative effects on their budgets. How important is pension reform for the fiscal health of state and local governments? Does the public pension situation constitute a crisis—one that could necessitate federal action? And if so, what steps should be taken to address it?