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Willisms

« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 186 -- Government Revenues & Spending. | WILLisms.com | Iraq 'Milestone' Constitution Probably Passed. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 187 -- Drowning In Entitlement Spending.

Entitlements Will Be The Death Of Us-

Liberals, moderates, fellow conservatives, WAKE UP. Seriously. Open your eyes.

I dislike chicken littles. I am annoyed by constant hyperbole. I can't stand eternal pessimists. I roll my eyes at those who constantly talk about how such and such is "for the children." I reject that whole "being outraged perpetually" thing.

But this is important.

Entitlement spending (which means Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid) is going to drown the American economy over the next century. Without changes-- and soon-- my children and grandchildren (not to mention members of my own generation) are going to feel the hurt. It's going to be a painful situation.

And this plea is aimed at my fellow conservatives: GET REAL. Pork is an irritant, but it's a drop in the bucket and a distraction from the real crisis looming in the federal budget.

entitlements1990.gif
*Entitlements consume nearly 60% of all program spending and a record 10.8% of GDP.

*Entitlement spending is projected to nearly double over the next decade. Medicare is expanding by 9% annually, Medicaid by 8% annually, and Social Security by 6% annually.

And we ain't seen nothin' yet.

The total cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is projected to leap from 8.4% of GDP in 2005 to 18.9% of GDP by 2050.

...depending on GDP growth, of course.

If you think the above line is steep, you won't want to see what the next 15 years will bring.

As noted yesterday, government revenues are outpacing government spending. But we're nearing a new era in spending. An explosion. The Baby Boomers are nearing retirement. It'll be nearly impossible for revenues to continue outpacing that kind of spending.

PORKBUSTERS is an admirable idea, and one I support, but pork is largely symbolic relative to entitlement spending. It is easy to point out the wasteful nature of bridges to nowhere, programs to combat teenage goth culture in small towns, and research programs on obscure insects. Republicans running for and holding office should understand that elections are all about symbolism. Ergo, although pork is pocket change relative to entitlement spending, it is going to get attention. And it will undermine the serious work of getting spending under control.

How can anyone trust a political party to get entitlement spending under control when said party can't get symbolic pork barrel spending under control?

At this point, Congress should have passed a Social Security reform package. We should now be thinking about how to apply the same principles of reform to Medicare and Medicaid. But we're going to have to wait until we have more Tom Coburns and Jim DeMints, with less Olympia Snowes and Arlen Specters.

It'll take not a majority of Republicans, but a supermajority of true fiscal conservatives, to get this thing accomplished. In the meantime, the disgruntled conservative base may shoot itself in the foot (or cut off its own nose to spite its face, choose your own metaphor) by sitting out the 2006 or 2008 elections.

And years later, if we do miraculously get that necessary burst of political inertia behind reform of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, we will have allowed entitlement spending to become trillions of dollars larger-- and more psychologically entrenched with the American people.

This is serious.

So, let's all get real here.

The demographic iceberg is coming. Will we continue to ignore it forever? And when we do address spending growth, will we get hung up on pork, or will we work to address the real fiscal crunch that looms around the corner?


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Government Revenues & Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 October 2005 11:48 AM

Comments

Why hasn't Congress done something about Social Security reform at the very least? Isn't social security reform inevitable? At the rate these people we send to Washington D.C. are going, we will be lucky if future generations will ever see Reform!...Sorry I don't mean to rant! BUT...Hmmmmmm

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at October 16, 2005 04:02 PM

The Democrats have done nothing because they can. They will not watch SS be reformed because that is their baby. They'd rather demogogue us to economic collapse or tax raising bonanzas than to let Republicans or anyone, for that matter, change the program for the betterment of the country.

And that's all there is to it.

End of story.

Posted by: Hoodlumman at October 16, 2005 08:26 PM

Will is completely right. This is the great challenge that we face in the 21st century. What we need is a way to "contain the welfare state" just like we "contained communism".

This is why President Bush's efforts to create personal accounts to replace part of Social Security is so important. I hope that he is able to revive this. If not, I sure hope the next presidential candidates keep proposing it. How can these problems go on being ignored?

And Social Security reform must just be the beginning of efforts to contain the welfare state.

Posted by: Dan Morgan at October 16, 2005 10:34 PM