Yes, a lower budget deficit is cool, but given the overwhelming burden of entitlement spending over the horizon, it’s only a temporary reprieve. Still, the Democrats have some serious chutzpah for raising this issue now:
The other favorite line of critics yesterday was summed up by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, who said the deficit would still "explode" in the long term because of the "coming retirement of the baby boom generation." But this is a political bait-and-switch. When Senator Conrad had the chance to do something about the "long term" by reforming Social Security in 2005, he refused. But now that the tax cuts he opposed are reducing the short-term deficit, he's back to fretting about the long term. At least Mr. Conrad is consistent in wanting a tax increase.Let’s all recall that famous moment in the State of the Union address when the Democrats cheered the end of Social Security reform. They have abdicated their right to complain about entitlement reform now.
There surely is a long-term budget problem, driven largely by fast-growing entitlements for seniors. Federal spending is still climbing by 8.6% this year, with Medicare alone growing at an astonishing rate of 15.5%, or $33 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year (which ends September 30). Thank the GOP prescription drug benefit for that future taxpayer burden. The only solution to the entitlement problem, short or long term, is to reform both Medicare and Social Security.