Thursday, August 11, 2011

Follow up

My last post dealt with how ridiculous it is for liberals to blame tea partiers for the downgrading of the federal government’s credit rating, when the liberals’ own spending policies are what really caused the downgrade and the tea partiers are the only ones who tried to reverse those policies.

Almost as soon as I published that post, a few thoughts came to mind that I wanted to add. Now, well, here they are.

It has to be said that 1) the only way to reduce long-term government deficits is to reform government entitlement programs, and 2) the only people who have ever attempted such reform are Republicans. This includes not only today’s so-called Tea Party Republicans, like Paul Ryan, but older-generation stalwarts like Alan Simpson, who fought the good fight years before it became fashionable.

There is no doubt about #1 above. Entitlements overall account for 72 percent of all federal spending, with the Big Three (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) accounting for 42 percent. By contrast, overall defense spending is only 19 percent. Yet every time the topic of reducing expenditures comes up, liberals/Democrats reflexively suggest defense cuts while stridently refusing to even consider entitlement cuts. Meanwhile, conservatives/Republicans suggest cutting both, but somehow they are the ones who get called “intransigent.”

Far from trying to get a handle on entitlements when he came to office, Barack Obama sought to create a brand new one -- a.k.a. Obamacare -- that would be the largest in American history. An overwhelming majority of his fellow Democrat politicians sided with him, and got their way even though most voters were against Obamacare. And the percentages cited above are even more ominous when you consider that Obamacare has not even gone into effect as of today.

Social Security is the biggest entitlement right now and is nothing more than a second-rate Ponzi scheme. Any private citizen who sold such a thing would be thrown in jail. It consists not of taxing workers and setting their money aside to grow, so that larger amounts can be returned to them at retirement, but instead of taxing today’s workers and instantly giving the money to today’s retirees. Eventually every civilization involved in such an arrangement will reach a point where the worker-to-retiree ratio is not enough to sustain it, but in America, where members of the gigantic Baby Boom Generation are reaching retirement age and much smaller generations are going to be expected to take care of them, the situation is a potential cataclysm.

Although I do not remember any Democrat ever attempting to get Social Security under control, plenty of Republicans have -- even George W. Bush, whose high-spending ways made many question the GOP’s commitment to limited government. After his 2004 re-election, Bush courageously spent his political capital trying to give people the option to choose how their Social Security contributions are invested and also giving them ownership of the funds. Unfortunately, his efforts failed because Democrats opposed them in toto and were joined by enough timid Republicans that the principled ones got outvoted.

When it comes to who is responsible for the government’s decrepit spending habits, the Republican Party is not innocent. However, it is far less guilty than the Democrat Party, and can hang its hat on the fact that every person who has tried to overcome those habits and slay the spending dragon has been a Republican. If only the timid ones would overcome their fear and govern as they were voted to govern, we could look at the future with confidence instead of trepidation.

Note: Statistics in this post were taken from and "The Daily Beast."

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