Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Like Jonah and the whale

We’re going to be swallowed up by entitlements. Here’s the conclusion of Bruce Bartlett’s article “Understanding the Long-Term Finances of Today’s Entitlement Programs”:

The chilling conclusion is that virtually 100 percent of all federal taxes, on a present value basis, do nothing but pay for Social Security and Medicare. Unless there are plans to abolish the rest of the federal government, large tax increases are inevitable.

Avoiding such tax increases is the best reason to reform Social Security now. It's too bad that President Bush made the Medicare problem so much worse before trying to fix Social Security.
If you read the article, you’ll see that Bartlett is referring to the massive new prescription drug benefit added on to Medicare two years ago, which pushed us further into the hole. But there’s an important point here for Democrats opposed to reform. If nothing is done, entitlements will crowd out all discretionary spending – all the things that most people refer to as “government.” Our future will be a hard choice between "starve the beast" and "soak the taxpayers."

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