There is as much as a $4 trillion gap between what states have promised its public workers in retirement pensions and what has actually been set aside and invested in order to pay for them. There are enough reasons this has happened to count as a survey question on the most boring episode of Family Feud ever—states and cities didn't set aside enough money, employees didn't contribute enough, and guaranteed investment returns are overestimated, among many other problems.
But what does the average American think about the pension crisis and what would they do? A small number of communities like Phoenix, Arizona, and San Jose, California, have put pension reform in the voters' hands, to mixed outcomes. In our latest Reason-Rupe poll, we decided to focus almost entirely on the pension crisis, asking Americans how serious the problem is and what sort of trade-offs they would accept to fix it. Scott Shackford takes a close look at the results.