“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams

Curbing the Budget Madness

Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute examines the coming entitlement implosion in the Wall Street Journal today.

With federal deficits high and 77 million baby boomers hitting retirement this year, things are about to get ugly for government, for taxpayers, for everyone.

While bureaucrats might think manufacturing money out of thin air is perfectly natural, the real world doesn’t work that way. But Marshall has a plan to try and avert the coming economic disaster:

To this end, members of the Brookings-Heritage Fiscal Seminar, a nonpartisan group of 16 federal budget and policy experts, of which I am member, have hammered out an innovative plan for averting a fiscal meltdown. The basic idea is simple: Take entitlement spending off auto-pilot, and establish a fixed, overall budget for the programs.

Here is how he says the plan would work:

Congress and the president enact explicit, long-term budgets for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. With this one step, entitlements would be forced to compete for budget dollars with other vital national priorities.

Either the trustees or the Congressional Budget Office would review the programs at regular intervals, possibly every five years, to determine whether they stay within their budget. Failure to do so triggers automatic adjustments in benefits, premiums, provider payments, or tax revenues.

It’s a good start, especially when we’ve had nothing but inaction for far too many years.

The best solution would be to fully privatize retirement and health care again, taking all this completely off the plate of the government, and the taxpayers.

Nowhere in our Constitution are things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid authorized. And since our government is one of limited, enumerated powers, that means these these programs are not only unwise and improperly administered, they’re downright illegal.

But at this point, Americans have become so used to handouts and having government manage their lives that it would be small miracle just to see the kind of control and restraint envisioned by Marshall, much less a return to Constitutional government.

There are a couple of reasons socialism doesn’t work, and they’re the same reasons our socialist programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid aren’t working: such schemes ignore human nature, which includes the fact that bureaucracy will never be as efficient as close-to-home personal involvement.

It’s time we returned to the traditional wisdom that made the United States the greatest nation on earth…before that is no longer true.


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