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There's a problem for every solution

By Cal Thomas, Tribune Content Agency on

Among the many things that frustrate Americans about Washington, D.C., is the unwillingness -- not inability, but unwillingness -- to solve problems.

One of many examples is the U.S. national debt, now more than $22 trillion and counting.

As Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James has written, "The federal budget is at the core of our political system. Everything the federal government does, from taxing, to regulating, to providing services, to protecting our very freedoms, it does through the federal budget."

Liberals might dismiss the foundation's "Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for Fiscal 2020," but they shouldn't. The document is based on verifiable facts. If implemented, Heritage claims, it would save trillions of dollars compared to projections by the Congressional Budget Office and produce a budget surplus by 2025.

Everyone knows "entitlements" are the main drivers of debt and that politicians don't want to reform them because they fear attacks by the media and by their political opponents.

The "Blueprint" summarizes the problem: "Entitlement programs in the United States have expanded more than tenfold since their inception, but workers are nowhere near 10 times better off as a result ... they often make them worse off, depriving them of autonomy, personal choice, and higher incomes and saddling them with a mountain of debt. Medicare and Social Security carry $70 trillion worth of unfunded obligations over the next 75 years -- the equivalent of a $445,000 credit card bill placed on every U.S. worker."

 

Ponder that for a moment as you look at your credit card statement.

Most people appear ignorant that the amount they pay into Social Security and Medicare does not come close to covering the programs' actual costs.

"According to the Urban Institute," says the Blueprint, "the average worker retiring in 2020 will have paid $135,000 in Social Security taxes and will receive $193,000 in Social Security benefits. The gap for Medicare is even larger; the average retiree in 2020 will have paid $36,000 in Medicare taxes and will receive $229,000 in Medicare benefits (excluding premiums paid by the retiree). This means that the average retiree in 2020 will receive about 2.5 times as much in benefits as he or she paid into the systems."

There's much more and Members of Congress should read it, along with the proposed fixes, which are as follows:

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