A lot of the decline - you'll notice - is due to the recession. But not all of it. This is tough, of course, because people living today also like entitlements. That would almost certainly be part of the democratic choice. But the fact that all the revenue is eaten up immediately is still startling.
Speaking of great Urban Institute commentary on fiscal issues, I am going to this event on the fiscal cliff on Tuesday. It's not too late to sign up, and it's also available to watch online.
"...But what limits, it will be asked, does this prescribe to their powers? What is to hinder them from creating a perpetual debt? The laws of nature, I answer. The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead. The will and the power of man expire with his life, by nature's law. Some societies give it an artificial continuance, for the encouragement of industry; some refuse it, as our aboriginal neighbors, whom we call barbarians. The generations of men may be considered as bodies or corporations. Each generation has the usufruct of the earth during the period of its continuance. When it ceases to exist, the usufruct passes on to the succeeding generation, free and unincumbered, and so on, successively, from one generation to another forever. We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country."