Consider America's fiscal situation, which is dire anyway you cut it. Federal spending on the poor has grown enormously, as Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution told the House Budget Committee in April. The ten largest "means tested" programs (Medicaid, food stamps, earned-income tax credits, etc.) spent $4,300 per poor person in 1980 (in constant 2011 dollars), and $13,000 in 2011. That's a three-fold increase in real, per capita terms. Add in the $209 billion spent by federal programs too "small" to make the Top Ten, and total poverty spending reached $835 billion last year, or $17,380 for each American living below the poverty line. Spending on entitlement programs that aren't means tested was even larger: Social Security cost $731 billion and Medicare $486 billion. And in a dozen years, the number of Medicare and Social Security recipients will have risen by 50%. In 2011 the federal government spent $3.6 trillion, of which it borrowed $1.3 trillion, or more than a third. The Obama Administration expects to borrow a slightly larger amount in 2012. As a result, the gross federal debt stood at $14.8 trillion in 2011, 98.7% of GDP, and will surpass 100% of GDP each year through 2017. "Simply put," writes the steely-eyed Yuval Levin, "we cannot afford to preserve our welfare state in anything like its present form."Taxing the rich isn't going to make these numbers go away, either.
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Why We Must Cut Entitlement Spending
Ignoring these numbers doesn't make them go away: