Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, April 11, 2010

United States Monetary Tsunami

The Coming Entitlement Tsunami, By the Democratic Party:

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on April 7, 2010

This article appeared in the Daily Caller on April 6, 2010

Now that we've finished creating a new $1 trillion health care entitlement program, Washington has suddenly discovered that we are facing a crisis with—surprise—entitlement programs.

No one should be shocked to learn that government spending is out of control. In fact, last year, federal spending topped 24.7 percent of gross domestic product last year, the highest peacetime percentage in U.S. history. That compares to an historical average of roughly 21 percent. Meanwhile, federal taxes have traditionally run at around 18 percent of GDP. (Currently, they are down around 16 percent as the economic downturn—though that lower percentage has predictably become fodder for those looking for any excuse to ratchet up tax rates and depress the economy further). Thus, our current budget deficits.

Even President Obama has recognized the problem. Well, sort of: after presiding over an orgy of federal spending that could even put George W. Bush to shame, he has promised to freeze discretionary, non-defense spending…next year.

No one should be shocked to learn that government spending is out of control.

But our current budget squall is nothing compared to the tsunami to come. And the big wave has almost nothing to do with the 12 percent of the budget that Obama may or may not freeze after the next election. Our major entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are all careening toward insolvency.


Social Security faces unfunded liabilities of more than $15.8 trillion. And while that sounds like a lot of money, it is dwarfed by Medicare's looming budget shortfall of between $50 and $100 trillion, depending on which accounting measure is used. Because of its funding mechanisms, Medicaid does face the same type of accounting shortfalls, but it will soon add hundreds of billions of dollars to federal, not to mention state, spending.

As the full force of entitlement programs kicks in, the federal government will consume more than 40 percent of GDP by the middle of the century. Half of that will be taken up by just those three entitlement programs. From there, it only gets worse.

Faced with this rising tide of red ink, the traditional response in Washington is that we must have the "courage" to raise taxes. But think about how much taxes would actually have to be raised to pay for all the government spending to come. And it's not just the "rich" who would get soaked. In fact, if you confiscated the wealth of every person in the United States earning over $1 million per year, you would barely make a dent in our future obligations.

If we really wanted to pay for the amount of spending to come, we would have to raise both the corporate tax rate and top income tax rate from their current 35 percent to 88 percent, the current 25 percent tax rate for middle-income workers to 63 percent, and the 10 percent tax bracket for low-income workers to 25 percent.

http://www.cato.org/people/images/hires_new/tanner.jpgMichael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.
More by Michael D. Tanner

In theory that would eliminate the deficit, but as a society we would be much poorer. After all, every dollar that government spends is a dollar that is siphoned off from American workers regardless of whether it is raised through debt or taxes. Both divert money from more efficient uses in the private sector to less-productive uses in the public sector. Both mean fewer jobs and less economic growth.

More importantly, we should remember that every dollar the government spends is one less dollar that you can spend on food, clothing, housing, charitable contributions, or other goods and services of their choosing. It is, after all, your money.

What's missing in Washington is not the courage to raise taxes, but the courage to cut spending. Unfortunately, that type of courage truly remains lacking—on a bipartisan basis.

Recently, Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)—one of the youngest members of Congress at age 40, but seemingly one of the few adults left in Washington—put forward a comprehensive proposal to reform entitlement programs and bring government spending back down to historical levels. His plan attracted fewer than a dozen co-sponsors. No one from the Republican leadership backed it; they were too busy complaining that the Democratic health care bill cut Medicare. (It actually won't, unfortunately.)

And the Democrats? Their latest contribution has been the aforementioned health care bill, with its unprecedented level of budget chicanery to hide its true costs.

It has long been a truism that "if something cannot go on, it will eventually stop." In Washington these days, Congress seems determined to prove that wrong.

Michael Tanner heads research into a variety of domestic policies with a particular emphasis on health care reform, social welfare policy, and Social Security. His most recent book, Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution (2007), chronicles the demise of the Republican party as it has shifted away from its limited government roots and warns that reform is necessary to avoid continual electoral defeat.

Under Tanner's direction, Cato launched the Project on Social Security Choice, which is widely considered the leading impetus for transforming the soon-to-be-bankrupt system into a private savings program. Time Magazine calls Tanner, "one of the architects of the private accounts movement," and Congressional Quarterly named him one of the nation's five most influential experts on Social Security.

His other books include, Healthy Competition: What's Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It (Second Edition, 2007), The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society (2003), and A New Deal for Social Security (1998). Tanner's writings have appeared in nearly every major American newspaper, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. A prolific writer and frequent guest lecturer, Tanner appears regularly on network and cable news programs. Before joining Cato in 1993, Tanner served as director of research of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and as legislative director for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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