News Flash: Entitlement Spending Grows Like Giant Cancer on U.S. Economy


USA Today notes:

The real drivers of looming deficits are Medicare, projected to grow from $516 billion this year to $932 billion in 2018, and Social Security, forecast to grow from $581 billion this year to $966 in 2018 as Baby Boomers retire.

That's not so much wrong as incomplete: We've already got deficits on the discretionary side of the budget ("discretionary spending" is spending which must be approved every year by Congress; it includes things such as military spending, homeland, defense, and most education spending). But the paper of bright colors is right that so-called mandatory spending (so named because it is not subjet to annual budget approval) is a big hairy plague that's only going to get worse before it gets completely catastrophic. And note too that the number of entitlement programs continues to grow: Bush and his pals in the GOP-led Congress pushed through the Medicare prescription benefit in the Aughts and Obama is pushing to make higher-ed grants an entitlement program.

USAT suggests that cutting benefits and raising taxes is the only way to square this problems. But why not start working on changing benefits quickly for people under 50, or 40, or whatever and figuring out other ways to pay for stranded costs than jacking up taxes on the relatively young and the relatively poor (as a group, the elderly are the wealthiest segment of the population, which makes sense since they've have full lifetimes to acquire assets)? Fiscal stability is important for any government, of course, but there's a basic principle that needs to be put in place first: We live in a world where individuals, especially individuals in the private sector, are expected and required to fund their own retirements and take on an increasing percentage of their health-care costs. Society at every level should be shifting to pension and health-care systems in which you are responsible for funding your future. The days of getting supported or subsidized by a large number of younger workers is over (and that's not a bad thing, either, especially as it gives more freedom and flexibility to individuals).