And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Entitlement Spending Is America’s Biggest Fiscal Challenge, but Discretionary Spending Is Still Far too High

Posted on: April 16, 2013

Yesterday I* posted on just where each of your tax dollars go.  The largest outlays were for our Senior Citizens in the form of Medicare and Social Security.    And yes dear reader I went into my usual rant about the reason for Social Security and is oldsters living much longer than we should and therefore getting  years and years more than we put into the Social Security program thru our payroll deductions while we were working.  In fact, we each get back every cent we put into our account within two and one half years after retirement!!  After that People we are on WELFARE and living off the backs of the young!!   Social security needs to be means tested and should go only to those who need it to live a decent life.  That does not mean paying for Grandma and Grandpa to spend lovely warm winters in Florida in their fancy RV’s.   And yes, I spent eleven years as a full time RVer so I know well what I am talking about.  I also lived for 19 years in Florida before retirement and know how populations in some towns in Florida go from 7000 in the summer to 70,000  in the winter.  People who can afford to own RVs do not need Social Security.  They should not be living on the backs of the young or getting money that is becoming a national debt that their great grandchildren will have to pay back.

Of course next on the Greedy Geezer list are those who are well able to buy their own health insurance but who take Medicare.   At the grand old age of 24 in 1965 i was so much against this Medicare scam that President Johnson and the Congress (both Democrats and Republicans)  were in on with the insurance companies.    At that time only an estimated 40% of seniors needed some help paying for their health insurance.  And instead of putting these people on Medicaid or some type of stipend to help them purchase their own health insurance the ENTIRE elderly population 65 and over no matter their income was put on Medicare.  It was a disaster in the making just as Obamacare is going to be the devastation of our country as we know it.   ALL the estimates of costs of the Medicare program in 1965 were 2000%  (that is two THOUSAND percent) under the actual costs of Medicare in 2010.  Again we Seniors are being kept healthy and alive on the backs of our current working young and by putting our great grandchildren in debt for life.  Our great grandchildren in effect will have no life because they will be slaves to paying for the lives we are living now.

How can Americans bear to live with what we are allowing to happen?  I grieve for my country and for my great grandchildren yet to be born.

Anyhow, no more ranting from me.  The following article from Cato Institute  explains better than I can why we must stop the madness of our entitlement programs and put them on a course that will  help those who truly need help but take those who can do for themselves  off the programs.  It really grates me when wealthy Americans are using Medicare.

Be sure to go to the referred sites for additional information.  Sincerely, Brenda Bowers (BB)

APRIL 16, 2013 8:40AM

Entitlement Spending Is America’s Biggest Fiscal Challenge, but Discretionary Spending Is Still Far too High

If America descends into Greek-style fiscal chaos, there’s no doubt that entitlement programs will be the main factor. Social SecurityMedicareMedicaid, and Disability are all fiscal train wrecks today, and the long-run outlook for these programs is frightful.

Just look at these numbers from the Bank for International Settlements and OECD to see how our fiscal future is bleaker than many of Europe’s welfare states.

Simply stated, if we don’t implement the right kind of entitlement reform, our children and grandchildren at some point will curse our memory.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about other parts of the budget, including the so-called discretionary programs that also have been getting bigger and bigger budgets over time.

That’s why I want to add some additional analysis to Veronique de Rugy’s recent piece inNational Review Online, which might lead some to mistakenly conclude that these programs are “shrinking” and being subject to a “Big Squeeze.”

…there is another number to look at in that budget. It’s the shrinking share of the budget consumed by discretionary spending (spending on things like defense and infrastructure) to make space for mandatory spending and interest. This is the Big Squeeze. …in FY 2014 mandatory spending plus interest will eat up 67 percent of the budget, leaving discretionary spending with 33 percent of the budget (down from 36 percent in FY 2012). Now by FY 2023, mandatory and interest spending will consume 77 percent of the total budget. Discretionary spending will be left with 23 percent of the budget.

She’s right that discretionary spending is becoming a smaller share of the budget, but it’s important to realize that this is solely because entitlement outlays are growing faster than discretionary spending.

Here’s some data from the Historical Tables of the Budget, showing what is happening to spending for both defense discretionary and domestic discretionary. And these are inflation-adjusted numbers, so the we’re looking at genuine increases in spending.

Discretionary Spending FY62-14

As you can see, defense outlays have climbed by about $100 billion over the past 50 years, while outlays for domestic discretionary programs have more than tripled.

If that’s a “Big Squeeze,” I’m hoping that my household budget experiences a similar degree of “shrinking”!

Veronique obviously understands these numbers, of course, and is simply making the point that politicians presumably should have an incentive to restrain entitlement programs so they have more leeway to also buy votes with discretionary spending.

But I’d hate to think that an uninformed reader would jump to the wrong conclusion and decide we need more discretionary spending.

Particularly since the federal government shouldn’t be spending even one penny for many of the programs and department that are part of the domestic discretionary category. Should there be a federal Department of Transportation? A federal Department of Housing and Urban Development? A federal Department of Agriculture?

No, NO, and Hell NO. I could continue, but you get the idea.

The burden of federal government spending in the United States is far too high and it should be reduced. That includes discretionary spending and entitlement spending.

P.S. For those who don’t have the misfortune of following the federal budget, “entitlements” are programs that are “permanently appropriated,” which simply means that spending automatically changes in response to factors such as eligibility rules, demographic shifts, inflation, and program expansions. Sometimes these programs (such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc) are referred to as “mandatory spending.”

The other big part of the budget is “discretionary spending” or “appropriations.” These are programs funded by annual spending bills from the Appropriations Committees, often divided into the two big categories of “defense discretionary” and “nondefense discretionary.”

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