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« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 295 -- Immigration. | WILLisms.com | Some Call It A Bonfire (Or Carnival) Of Classiness. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 296 -- Seriously, People, The Big Entitlements Need Reform ASAP.

Even With Strong Economic Growth, We Won't Be Able To Afford Entitlement Promises-

Let's pretend for a second that we could balance the federal budget without reforming the three major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security). If we also don't want to raise taxes (or add to existing and already-projected deficits), we can just cut all other programs and balance the budget, right?

Well, let's try:

Eliminating spending on homeland security, justice, veterans benefits, highways, unemployment bene­fits, the environment, social services, community development, energy, international aid, science research, and farm subsidies would immediately bal­ance the budget.

Even less likely (and FAR LESS desirable) than reforming entitlements. Not gonna happpen.

But let's pretend. Let's act like we've designated those big three entitlement programs as our "franchise players" which cannot be touched. Every other program is expendable. As entitlement spending creeps inexhaustibly upward, we just shed other programs, bit by bit:

From there, making room for the “big three entitlements” would require eliminating education spending by 2018, health research by 2020, federal employee retirement benefits by 2021, other anti-poverty spending by 2026, and defense spending by 2045. By that point, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would consume the entire federal budget except for relatively small interest payments on pre-2006 debt.

And here's what it would look like:


And this forecast actually predicts relatively strong economic growth (4.3% annually, after 2015). If GDP growth falters and government revenues falter accordingly, the picture looks even worse.

The lesson: cutting back or slowing the growth of government spending means absolutely nothing if it fails to include the three major entitlement programs. Eliminating earmarks and pork might very well run off a good number of the lobbyists from Washington, but it won't make a dent in federal spending, especially over the long haul.

Entitlements, entitlements, entitlements. Discretionary spending is up substantially during the Bush administration:

Education is up 62 percent, or 10 percent annually; International affairs is up 74 percent, or 12 percent annually; Health research and regulation is up 57 percent, or 9 percent annually; Veterans’ benefits are up 46 percent, or 8 percent annually; Science and basic research is up 40 percent, or 7 percent annually.

But all of those programs (many of which Bush gets lambasted for "gutting") combined are essentially nothing compared to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Keep it in perspective.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Immigration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 March 2006 12:04 PM


thanks, now I am totaly depressed:(

Posted by: christian at March 14, 2006 12:35 PM


President Bush passed the single largest Entitlement increase in the last 40 years since LBJ when he expanded medicare to include prescription drugs. So the only real reform he has successfully passed was reform to INCREASE ENTITLEMENTS.

I am disgusted at the continued growth and the fact that new spending never goes away. Programs are never eliminated. And the Republican Party of Newt has been replaced by a bunch of folks spending like drunken sailors on leave.

This is not fiscal conservatism and we are left with two choices--progressive tax and spend Democrats that will really balloon debt and stagnate the economy or "conservative" don't tax yet still spend drunken sailor Republicans that earmark money to pet projects left and right. Lessor of two evils is still spending us into financial ruin and eventually taxes will consume our economy.

The Republican Party needs some hard line folks that can push Social Security Reform and tackle the challenge Bush has failed to get through from his 2004 agenda. It isn't just Dems blocking SS reform, but big spending, entitlement loving Republicans.

Posted by: Justin B at March 14, 2006 01:29 PM

I say Newt for President!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at March 14, 2006 01:44 PM

Saying that the Republicans are spending money like drunken sailors is an insult to drunken sailors everywhere.

All the inebriated seamen all througout history combined haven't spent money like this.

We need meaningful cuts in government spending, and not just cuts in growth, and cuts across the board except for national security and the military. This is the Reagan way, yet Reagan was hampered by having the purse strings controlled by Democrats.

We have no such excuse today!

Posted by: Ken McCracken at March 14, 2006 02:05 PM

Exactly. I have heard the Democrats and the Media blamed for the Republican's failures to make meaningful cuts to government programs, yet, in the end, holding solid majorities in both houses plus the Presidency, the Republicans have failed to deliver.

At the end of things, if the Republican party continues to simply spend and spend and spend, the message of economic growth, free trade, and capitalism is lost in the reality of further socialism.

One of my best friends is a hard core Libertarian and loathes the Republican Party. His favorite sayings are the most effective Socialists are Republicans since at least the Democrats have challengers to pose resistance to their Socialist Agenda, but no one stands to the right or on the side of Fiscal Conservatism to the Republicans when passing Prescription Drugs, etc. If the Dems tried to pass a $600B Entitlement program, the Repubs would block it, yet no one stopped the boondoggle of Entitlement growth the Repubs created.

Posted by: Justin B at March 14, 2006 02:29 PM

Anyone consider that in last five years the rolls for entitlements has grown 17%? More people means more money, right? Enrollment growth was responsible for 3/4ths of the spending increase. this is biggest five-year increase in 40 years. which would explain the increase in spending. good article here


Posted by: christian at March 14, 2006 08:03 PM