Monday, August 01, 2011


Robert Samuelson in Friday's Washington Post:
[W]e’ve heard almost nothing of the main problem that makes the budget so intractable.

It’s the elderly, stupid.

By now, it’s obvious that we need to rewrite the social contract that, over the past half-century, has transformed the federal government’s main task into transferring income from workers to retirees. In 1960, national defense was the government’s main job; it constituted 52 percent of federal outlays. In 2011 -- even with two wars -- it is 20 percent and falling. Meanwhile, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other retiree programs constitute roughly half of non-interest federal spending.

These transfers have become so huge that, unless checked, they will sabotage America’s future. The facts are known: By 2035, the 65-and-over population will nearly double, and health costs remain uncontrolled; the combination automatically expands federal spending (as a share of the economy) by about one-third from 2005 levels. This tidal wave of spending means one or all of the following: (a) much higher taxes; (b) the gutting of other government services, from the Weather Service to medical research; (c) a partial and dangerous disarmament; (d) large and unstable deficits.

Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, that’s what they’re about. On average, the federal government supports each American 65 and over by about $26,000 a year (about $14,000 through Social Security, $12,000 through Medicare). At 65, the average American will live almost 20 more years. Should these sizable annual subsidies begin later and be less for some? It’s hard to discuss the budget realistically if you ignore most of what the budget does.
Agreed--again and again and again and again . . .


Warren said...

Instant reactions to the deal.

Krugman: The President Surrenders on Debt Ceiling

NYT: To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

While I, on the other hand, think it's a "terrible deal" for a completely different reason.

Remember Wimpy, a cartoon character from Popeye? "I'll gladly pay you on Wednesday for a hamburger today," was a favorite line of that old mooch.

Well, we just got a "hard-fought deal" the essence of which is "We'll gladly cut $900 Billion of spending over 10 years --and maybe more!!!-- in exchange for raising the debt ceiling $2.4 Trillion RIGHT NOW (so this administration can rush out and spend it like water without having to beg 'Please, Sir, might I have more?' while the Healer-of-Oceans is in full campaign mode)."


Anonymous said...

It's the REPUBLICANS, stupid....that are ruining America.

Reagan deregulation of financial industry......big spending of Reagan and Bush.......

YUP, it's the REPUBLICANS, STUPID, that are ruining the USA.

Warren said...


No need to shout.

Carl said...

And, anony, look up which President signed Gramm-Leach-Bliley.

Anonymous said...

It's the Republicans, Stupid! Check out the impact of the Bush tax cuts. See any job growth? The corporations write the laws that favor the corporations, enrichening their private owners while impoverishing the citizens. Notice the income and asset statistics of the US population since the Supreme Court's Rehnquist group interfered with the 2000 Presidential election taking the White House from the Democrats and Gore and placing Republican George Bush in the White House beginning the destruction of the budget surplus, increasing government spending, the national debt and otherwise ruining the economy and society of the USA?