Entitlements Driving Up Deficit

Friday, 21 Feb 2014 03:11 PM

By Bradley Blakeman

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Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up the three most relied upon and expensive government programs.
 
The cause of our deficit is rooted in current and long-term obligations of these programs due in large part to rising costs and an aging population.
 
Today we have a national debt topping $17 trillion which translates to a personal debt to every American of over $45,000 dollars and a debt of over $130,000 dollars per taxpayer.
 
The current national debt pales in comparison to future obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In the not too distant future, the United States is estimated to add an additional debt of over $8 trillion in unfunded Social Security and a mind-numbing approximately $38 trillion in unfunded Medicaid liabilities. These unfunded liabilities amount to more than two and a half times of America’s 2012 Gross Domestic Product.
 
The Congressional Budget Office has said that entitlements are only going to grow unless and until there are systemic changes that fundamentally alter the way entitlements are determined, financed, and paid out.
 
The CBO calculates that by 2020 Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security will make up over 45 percent of all federal spending. If that does not scare you, perhaps this will — unless fundamental and material changes are made to entitlements within 50 years entitlements will take up the entire U.S. budget.
 
Today, the number of people using Medicaid is at an all-time high, yet the number of workers paying in is at an all-time low. By 2040, Medicare will cover 88 million enrollees and the cost per enrollee by then is estimated to more than triple.
 
According to the Medicare Trustees, Medicare’s hospital insurance program known as “Part A” can pay full benefits only through 2024.
 
With regard to Social Security, it is estimated that by 203, it will be able to pay only 77 percent of promised and paid-in-retirement benefits.
 
The day of reckoning is here and financial collapse could be right around the corner unless the president and Congress put their minds to finding the “fixes” that are mandatory to our nation's entitlement obligations.
 
The longer our politicians wait to fix entitlements, the worse it gets. As we have seen with unfunded pensions, retirees who thought they could rely on them soon found out that there was no longer any money to pay out what was not coming in.
 
Our entitlements as they currently exist will fail as will our national economy, as there will not be enough revenue coming in to pay them and all the other programs that are necessary to run our government — no military, no infrastructure, no parks, no Congress, no arts or museums, no transportation, no energy, no education, no nothing.
 
Our existing and looming entitlement crisis will make the Depression look like a bump in the road. We know what is coming because we already are feeling the effects today.
 
Washington, D.C., is chock full of politicians, yet this crisis calls for statesmen to rise to the occasion and make the tough but necessary decisions to ensure entitlement programs exist as intended for those in need.
 
We live in the moment and thus have become “Momentarians” — a people who live for today at the expense of the future. 
 
Our nation will survive and flourish only when we provide for the moment but plan for the future.
 
“Too big to fail” is not an option.
 
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of politics and public policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
 
 

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