There was a time, not long ago, when both Republicans and Democrats agreed that something had to be done about entitlement spending — especially spending on the elderly. But no longer.
• Although he promised in his first run for the presidency to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Barack Obama seems increasingly unwilling to do any of that now.
• The leftwing of the Democratic Party seems increasingly shrill in its insistence that there is no need for any fundamental reform of entitlement spending.
• Even in the left-of-center think tanks and on the liberal blogs, one finds increasing denial that any fundamental change is needed.
This last development is especially disappointing. Tyler Cowen writes:
I see the current American Left as rapidly losing what it once knew about the need for entitlement reform. This is a shame, it does not augur well for our fiscal future, and it remains an under-reported story. I see it happening right under my nose, day by day, article by article, blog post by blog post.
Our budget problem should not be a mystery. Basically, spending on government entitlement programs has been growing at almost twice the rate of growth of our national income for the past 40 years. Health care entitlements have been growing more than twice that fast. Entitlement spending is already more than half of the federal budget and soon it will be more than half of all government spending — including state and local governments.
You don’t need to be an economist or a mathematician to know that if the cost of something you are buying is growing at twice the rate of growth of your income, you are going to be facing deficits that will get larger and larger through time.
When he was head of the Congressional Budget Office, one-time Obama adviser Peter Orszag estimated what tax revenues would be needed to stay on the spending course we are on. The projection: By mid-century, the average family will have to fork over two-thirds of its income to the federal government and upper-income families will have to surrender more than 90 percent!