“Social Security and Medicare are unaffordable in their current forms,” write budget experts J.D. Foster and Alison Acosta Fraser. “When this year's kindergarteners enter college, just 13 years away, spending on these two programs plus Medicaid and interest on the debt will devour all tax revenue.”
There are several steps Congress can take to address this problem. For one, they can reduce the Medicare subsidy for upper-income beneficiaries. It makes sense to subsidize benefits for low-income seniors, and perhaps for some middle-income seniors, but why are taxpayers being asked to give wealthy seniors a $5,000 subsidy to buy Medicare health insurance?
In the meantime, however, there are many sensible cuts Congress could make to achieve the same level of spending reductions mandated by sequestration. Why not drag Community Development Block Grants under the scalpel? Many of the $3 billion in grants from this program go to economically well-off communities that don’t need them. Then there’s theJob Corps. According to budget expert Patrick Louis Knudsen, it squanders $1.7 billion on “a demonstrably ineffective program that has failed to match many of its trainees with the jobs they were trained for.”
No, Mr. President, there are no “easy off ramps” on this one. But policymakers can’t keep refusing to exit the budget highway altogether, stuck in an endless loop of escalating spending hikes. Sooner or later, they’re going to run out of gas, i.e., our money. And the smart money is on sooner.