Archive for the ‘Social Security’ Category
An Unenviable Job
The next president’s daunting to-do list.
Brian Hook and Neil Bradley
Mr. Skoning is a labor and employment lawyer in Chicago
Like millions of other Americans, I have spent cautiously, paid bills on time and maintained a strict budget. That doesn’t make us heroes. But it does mean we have exercised common sense, which has been sorely lacking among the politicians in my home state of Illinois.
The Land of Lincoln has accrued a $111 billion unfunded liability for government workers’ pensions—up 75% from five years ago. There is an additional $56 billion of unfunded debt to cover health benefits for the state’s retirees. Illinois today is already spending more of its general fund on pensions than on K-12 education. One in four tax dollars pays for its retired workers’ benefits. Last year the state had to defer paying $7 billion owed to contractors. All this after Democrats in 2011 raised income taxes and corporate taxes by 67% and 30%, respectively.
It’s getting embarrassing to admit that I’m a citizen of such a deadbeat state.
It is no wonder that 850,000 people have left Illinois for other states in the past 15 years, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Or that Illinois has become one of the most business unfriendly states in the country (40th in a recent Forbes survey). (more…)
The end of government
Something strange is happening in Washington. We are slowly dismantling the federal government, even as its spending is growing larger. The paradox is that governmental competence is being systematically degraded while the government’s size, as measured by its budget, is increasing. We are spending more and getting less, and — unless present trends are reversed — this will continue for years. It threatens the end of government as we know it.
The cause is no mystery. An aging population and higher health spending automatically increase budget outlays, which induce the president and Congress to curb spending on almost everything else, from defense to food stamps. Over the next decade, all the government’s projected program growth stems from Social Security and health care, including the Affordable Care Act. By 2024, everything else will represent only 7.4 percent of national income (gross domestic product), the lowest share since at least 1940, says Douglas Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office.
This is the central budget story, and it’s largely missed — or ignored — by political leaders, the media, political scientists and the public. The welfare state is taking over government. It’s strangling government’s ability to respond to other national problems and priorities, because the constituencies for welfare benefits, led by Social Security’s 57 million, are more numerous and powerful than their competitors for federal support. Politicians of both parties are loath to challenge these large, expectant and generally sympathetic groups.
The United States, of course, is not the only advanced society grappling with aging, but it is extreme in its stubborn denial of the obvious. The Pew Research Center recently polled people in 21 countries about whether aging is a problem. The United States ranked 19th in its unconcern, ahead of only Indonesia and Egypt, whose populations are young. Only 26 percent of Americans thought aging was a problem. The share was 87 percent in Japan, 55 percent in Germany and 45 percent in France. (more…)
- April 110, 2013
The President’s Priorities
Debt in 2014 will hit 78.2% of the economy.
President Obama is pitching his new budget proposal as a fiscal peace offering to Republicans, but the details suggest everyone should expect more conflict. The fiscal 2014 plan he released Wednesday is a very slightly modified version of his previous budgets that reduces the deficit by raising taxes and trading defense cuts for more domestic spending.
The real news is that his budget ratifies much of the spending increase of the first term and tries to lock it in. He wants the feds to spend $3.78 trillion next year ($11,944 per American), which would still be 22.2% of national output nearly four years into an economic recovery. Before the financial panic in 2008, the government was spending about $1 trillion less, or closer to $2.7 trillion a year and an average of 20% of GDP—and President Bush was no slouch as a spender himself.
Mr. Obama wants federal spending to grow to $4.45 trillion by 2018 fueled mostly by the exploding costs of his Affordable Care Act. This spending surge appears smaller than it is only because the government will bank large reductions in military spending as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars wind down. But unlike in the 1990s, this peace dividend will be spent.
The budget’s supposed bow to Republicans is Mr. Obama’s proposal for a modest change in annual cost of living adjustments for Social Security. “Chain CPI,” as the change is called, would cut spending by about $130 billion and raises taxes by about $100 billion over the next year. We support the concept, but the White House also slips a mickey into that proposal (see below).
Even with this inflation change, federal spending would grow by more than if Mr. Obama simply let current law continue. This is because the President wants to eliminate the current caps on discretionary spending under the budget sequester that are set to save close to $1 trillion over the next decade. He wants to repeal the sequester that is providing the only spending cuts in at least a decade. (more…)
The current debate about the debt vote is minor league compared to what will happen when the government literally cannot spend more than it is taking in. That time may be nearer than you think. It is true that the U.S. government can always “print” money to pay its bills, but at some point, printing more money becomes self-defeating because the resulting increase in the government bond interest rate and required interest payment will spiral out of control. At that point, the government will be forced to operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, as any individual or business is forced to do when they can no longer get credit. Several California cities are now in this situation.
The U.S. government now receives about $200 billion a month in revenue and spends about $320 billion a month. Any responsible business or individual faced with a situation where receipts are only 60 percent of expenditures would make changes before their credit was cut off or, at the very minimum, have a plan for which bills to pay first — but not the U.S. government.
It appears that President Obama is once again going to produce a budget that assumes very high levels of deficit spending can go on forever. It also appears that Senate Democrats will continue to not bother to pass a budget. Note that the purpose of a budget is to allocate scarce resources (your money) and to make sure that spending does not exceed the funds that are available. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the ultimate spoiled child, accusing the taxpayers of engaging in child abuse by not giving him an unlimited allowance. (more…)
MARK LEVIN VIDEO – GOVERNMENT AGENCIES BUYING VAST AMOUNTS OF AMMUNITION PREPARING FOR SOCIETY COLLAPSE
- February 15, 2013
Generational Theft Needs to Be Arrested
A Democrat, an independent and a Republican agree: Government spending levels are unsustainable.
One of us grew up poor in the South Bronx of the 1960s and went on to lead a children’s antipoverty program in Harlem. Another grew up in a small town in South Jersey, and went on to be a leading money manager. The third grew up in a small suburb in upstate New York and found his way to serve in the government amid the financial crisis.
One of us is a Democrat; one, an independent; another, a Republican. Yet, together, we recognize several hard truths: Government spending levels are unsustainable. Higher taxes, however advisable or not, fail to come close to solving the problem. Discretionary spending must be reduced but without harming the safety net for our most vulnerable, or sacrificing future growth (e.g., research and education). Defense and homeland security spending should not be immune to reductions. Most consequentially, the growth in spending on entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare—must be curbed.
These truths are not born of some zeal for austerity or unkindness, but of arithmetic. The growing debt burden threatens to crush the next generation of Americans. (more…)