Back in 2003, Bruce Bartlett criticized the Smetters-Gokhale use of present value analysis but now he seems to like such calculations. To be fair, I have used such calculations, while Max Sawicky notes that they look like ginned-up large numbers unless put in the context of the present value of future GDP over the same horizon. And Bruce does close with this:
To make these very large numbers somewhat more concrete, Social Security’s unfunded liability comes to 1.2 percent of GDP in perpetuity … Avoiding such tax increases is the best reason to reform Social Security now.
Actually, my problem with his latest NRO op-ed is that he does not tell us what reforms will avoid the need to raise taxes. Is he talking about benefits cuts or some form of Cato-style free lunch? Of course, President Bush is supposed to inform us tonight what his “reforms” will be.