In fiscal year 2000 the federal government spent $1.77 trillion. In 2010 it more than doubled to $3.46 trillion. Nearly every facet of government has grown out of control in recent years. Discretionary spending has shot up an inflation-adjusted 56 percent since 2001. Medicare has increased 76 percent. And the ominous “other” category has gone up 64 percent. Because of all that our debt now approaches an astounding $17 trillion.
But to hear President Obama tell it we don’t have a spending problem at all. From Steve Moore’s interview with Speaker John Boehner:
What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.'”
. . . What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ “
Instead, the president suggests we simply have a “health care problem.”
Of course, Obama’s quaint, simplistic view of the problem overlooks the entirety of the problem. I’d like to hear him explain for instance how a “health care problem” made non-defense discretionary spending increase 56 percent over the last decade or made Social Security spending increase by 38.1 percent.
But in large part Obama is right. Health care spending is growing far faster than inflation or wages, eating up an ever-larger share of family budgets and the federal budget. That means federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid are growing exponentially more expensive, only made worse by the fact that we have an aging population of Baby Boomers who will soon get health care through these programs.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the party refuses to do anything about these and other entitlement costs.
“Social Security won’t contribute to future budget deficits,” writes influential liberal thinker Robert Reich. “What’s left to reform? Medicare and Medicaid costs are projected to soar. But here again, look closely and you’ll see neither is really the problem.”
It’s not as if Reich is some loony lefty who sits around all day thinking of ways to make conservative’s heads explode. Many, if not most, Democrats agree with him.
“Social Security is not part of the problem,” Sen. Harry Reid said recently. “That’s one of the myths the Republicans have tried to create.”
Actually it’s a huge problem! In 2010, for the first time in the history of the program, Social Security paid out more in benefits than it received in payroll taxes. That trend is only expected to worsen. Indeed, the latest annual report by the trustees charged with overseeing the program projected the Social Security trust fund will be insolvent in 2033 – three years earlier than projected in last year’s report.
It’s much the same ol’ song and dance in Medicare. When asked what their plan was to fix the troubled program, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “It is a flag we planted that we will have to protect and defend. We have a plan. It’s called Medicare.”
Translated from lefty-speak, their plan to fix Medicare, which everyone, including the CBO, agrees is broken, is to simply do nothing.
“According to CBO’s March 2011 baseline projections, the [Hospital Insurance] trust fund will be exhausted in 2020,” CBO writes. “Once the HI trust fund is exhausted, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will no longer have legal authority to pay health plans and providers. Annual outlays would therefore be limited to annual revenues. If payments to health plans and providers could be made only from annual revenues, which are inadequate to cover total costs, beneficiaries’ access to health care services could be reduced.”
If that sounds like a problem that’s because it is.
So yes. We have a spending problem that extends throughout the entirety of the federal government. And we also have a very large health care spending problem. One that if it is not addressed will spell the demise of Medicare, Medicaid and the government’s credit rating.
But really, if we’re reading between the lines of Democrats’ incredible views on entitlement spending, what we really have is a Democrat problem. Namely, there is too many of them controlling the levers of power.