'Which Entitlement Program Do We Cut, King Solomon?'

By Frank Hill

'How do we cut the baby, King Solomon?'
Now that we have settled the 'rich paying their fair share' issue, it is time to turn attention to the real problem in the federal budget, spending.

You don't think the tax debate is over? President Obama has gotten the last tax hike he will ever see, or any other Democrat, for the rest of his term and their lifetime.

Why?

Because he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that every time a Republican in Congress or the White House gives an inch on higher taxes on anyone, Democrats will not reciprocate with even a centimeter of spending cuts...


Just take a look at the fiscal cliff deal. 98% of Americans get to keep the tax cuts George W. Bush 43 and the GOP Congress gave them in 2002/03. They are now permanent thanks to President Obama and a GOP House.

But the GOP got nothing in return for biting the bullet on making poor old Warren Buffett get what he said he wanted: 'Higher Taxes on the Rich!'. No spending cuts. No entitlement reforms. No raising of the retirement age for SS and Medicare.

In fact, all the GOP and the country got was more of the same: More spending and more debt.

There is not a Republican or conservative in Washington today who will EVER vote for another tax hike as part of any deal with this President and this Democratic Senate. They just never give the Republicans what they really want: political cover to vote for Medicare and Social Security reforms which everyone with half a brain knows are the largest part of the entitlement bomb that is driving up cost in the federal budget and the deficit and the national debt.

So, now that President Obama will be the longest sitting lame duck in history if he insists on raising taxes further on anyone, what can be done?

For one thing, the GOP House can start showing the American people what is really at stake with no budgetary constraint or setting of priorities:
'Discretionary programs will be steadily eroded until and unless entitlement programs are reformed and curtailed in growth rates and expansion.'
It will be like King Solomon forcing the women with the dispute over who was the 'real mother' to 'make a decision' and make it the right one. (1 Kings 3:16-28)

We think Speaker Boehner should open up Congress as the Committee of the Whole every weekday after they have done some other important business like naming October 26 'National Mule Day' (our very favorite worthless act of Congress ever in history). He and the Republican leadership should let each and every representative on a bi-partisan basis offer spending amendments to reduce discretionary programs up to the same amount that all the entitlement programs are expected to grow this year.  Unless, of course, Congress decides to do the right thing and reform and cut entitlement programs in the first place.

Once the entitlement growth dragon is slain, (if ever) primarily in Medicare and Medicaid, then everyone can go back to protecting their own part of the discretionary pie just as they have always done under regular order and the 'normal' committee process (where they will never be cut again since no one wants to cut someone else's favorite program for fear that they will want to cut theirs)

The debate would look and sound something like this:
'The gentlelady from North Carolina is recognized.
'I rise to offer an amendment to reduce the funding for research on blind albino squirrels at the University of Idaho by $250,000, which is precisely the amount of money being spent on Medicare in the next 23 seconds as we speak on this hallowed floor.
If we are not going to fix what ails us in entitlement spending, then we have to find those savings by making such tough decisions as not funding research on these poor blind albino squirrels. Tough times demand tough decisions and I am ready to make them.  
How about you?'
Who in their right mind is going to vote against that amendment with the glare of C-SPAN cameras capturing their every move? It might not be as riveting as the debate leading up to the passage of the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves (you really should see 'Lincoln' before it goes to Netflix) but, cumulatively, making these spending priority decisions will be very important to the future health and welfare of our nation and our children.

One of our more grizzled veteran and denizen of the Washington deep friends responded when we approached him about this idea with the following (you know who you are):
'They could talk about selling off specific national parks (regretting it all the way, of course), but talking about what kind of revenue could be generated if we allowed Hilton to build a hotel overlooking Old Faithful or developers to build retirement homes along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  
Since Obama won't let the nation use Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste, why not fill it with compacted garbage from New York or LA? They would pay a fortune to drive it to Nevada, I am sure. Hell, I bet with some thought we could create a lot of revenue-producing opportunities.'
Indeed. If President Obama and the Democrats won't agree to any reasonable spending cuts or reforms in entitlements, and since the GOP has already caved in and let the White House win on the 'tax fairness' issue by making rich people pay more each year, then the only other way to get to a balanced budget other than slicing and dicing discretionary programs with a Veg-o-Matic is to sell off assets or get recurring cash-flows from naming national monuments like BCS Championship Bowl Games:

'Climb to the Top of the Chick-Fil-A Washington Monument!'
'Skateboard Around the Priceline.com Jefferson Memorial!'
'Swim Laps in the Reflecting Pool in Front of the Lincoln Memorial--
Sponsored by The New Lincoln--Drive A MKX Today!'

There is a serious proposal in here somewhere, we promise.  We think the time has come to drop the charade that raising taxes will ever balance this budget, not in the shape it is in today.  The Fiscal Cliff tax hikes will cover perhaps, maybe 6% of the budget shortfall over the next 10 years. If our annual budget deficits had been at the $100 billion or $60 billion, well, then perhaps the tax hikes would have done the trick.

But they weren't and haven't been for the past 4 years, now going on 5. Massive restructuring and reform of Medicaid, Medicare and SS are necessary unless we want to keep adding on debt until it becomes unmanageable, especially when (not if) our interest rates return to a normal level of 5% or more.

It is either reform entitlements or chop the heck out of every discretionary program you probably like and support for the good it does in our society in your opinion.

If you don't believe us, you need to read this book by our Progressive Liberal Friend (yes, we have 'em) Professor Donald Taylor of Duke University, 'Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority'.

When you see people from the other side of the political spectrum saying let's balance the budget, you know it is getting serious.

14 comments:

  1. The time for chatter is over. Why tell us all what we already know? Obama=bad. We get it. We do.

    No Socialist nation has ever prospered. We are now a Socialist nation. We will fail, as well.

    Enough chatter. Enough clever blogging. Enough preaching to the choir. Words will not win the day, and there is absolutely no truth to the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword. The only people who believe that have never taken a pen to a sword fight.

    We deserve what we tolerate. Period. It's time to become intolerant.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. We do indeed deserve what we tolerate. The past twelve, now in the thirteen year proves it

      Oh hell, why not just admit it has been going on for years before that. rEpublicans have been the champions of Keynesian deficit spending. Remember the statement 'We're all Keynesians now?". I seem to recall it was a rEpublican that said it. Who was it now, on yes Richard M. Nixon.

      And the beats been going on every since. Right Mr. GWB? Oh the hypocrisy of it all.

      Delete
    2. I do not care about previous presidents as to what I see in the White House today. Shall we simply blame them all, be they a D or an R or even the I's? Sure. We can. We should.

      However, no past poor performance from any president, be they with the R or the D after their name, matters to me today, since my focus is on the person in the White House today. Not 10 years ago. Not in 1993. Not in 1980 or even 1977.

      Blaming Bush doesn't address the solutions we need to come up with to solve the current president's desire to turn this Nation into a begging whore in the street, spreading her legs for the Chinese and washing the feet of the Islamofascists.

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    3. BTW, I'm not saying you yourself are blaming anyone, RNUSA. It's just that for the last four years it has been all about blaming that 'other guy' and not our current Dear Leader, since it is apparent he is Infallible and will always get a free pass.

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  2. .

    "'Which Entitlement Program Do We Cut, King Solomon?'"

    Answering sophistry with sophistry.

    Well start with cutting Defense Department entitlements by 15%. Sell a nuclear air-craft carrier (or two) to Iran. Maybe sell 100 M1 tanks to Syria/Israel. Declare peace and end the elective international wars. Cut international oil corporations welfare entitlements by 25%.

    Increase spending on domestic social programs that directly benefit the people. Economy will soar.

    Then as the well-being of the people improve because the economy improves, then cut the defense department entitlements more.

    Please note: SS does NOT, does NOT, does NOT have any connection with the deficit! Don't take my word for. Ask St. R Reagan.

    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. Ema: with all due respect, you got it completely backwards.

      EVERY program needs to be cut 15% at least! Many need to be abolished completely...the Helium Reserve was created in 1925 to supply intelligence dirigibles in use at the time for reconnaissance purposes....it was eliminated in 1995 as probably the only federal program ever to die of natural causes...and now some yahoo is trying to reinstate it!

      Social Security is contributing to the deficit because it is running at a big deficit this year and has for the past 4 years. It is not a fully functioning or paid-for retirement program as many think. It is pure and simple a welfare program where old people get tax money from young people. Despite their need or income or wealth status.

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  3. Pardon, but all this talk that the dems won't see another tax increase after this one is the mantra that has been chanted by the fiscal conservatives for the last 30 years, yet Charlie Brown continues to try to kick that football. I don't believe it for a sec and especially with Boner still in charge. I think the GOP will continue to cave as they always have and we haven't seen anything yet as the Obamacare taxes are kicking in with is more tax increases with even more insane spending.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the Repubs are done with tax hikes ever again....they have been burnt for the last time.

      Obama shoulda gotten more cause that was his last bite at the apple

      Delete
  4. I think Ema is off her meds again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ema wants to sell nuke carriers to Iran. Whatever she had that could be controlled by meds, that ship sailed long ago.

      Delete
    2. Indeed, Ema is unique as well as perhaps being "off get meds."

      Delete
  5. Did anyone catch the series "Last Resort"?

    ReplyDelete
  6. You say if Republicans agree to some tax increases, Democrats won't reciprocate with significant spending cuts. Suppose, however, the cuts were to some military programs and prisons. You rightly say tax increases along, unless they're outrageously large, will not solve the problem. It has to come from programs aimed at helping the needy. Programs to punish evil-doers, i.e. military, prisons, drug prohibtion, are off the table. Very small increases in everyone's taxes plus very small cuts to military and prisons plus small cuts to entitlements and social programs would solve the problems easily. But everyone wants to use the problem to their advantage-- to make the rich pay "their fair share" or to cut these huge entitlements and programs for the needy that we can't afford. It's very hard to get people to give up huge entitlements or to bring our prison population or military down to levels consistent with the rest of the world. So this seems like an intractable problems. Very modest changes across the board make the problems disappear.

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    1. CJ: with all due respect, you are way off-base with your diminution of the budget gaps we face. These problems we have on fiscal side can not be washed away with 'very small' changes as you assert.

      The fiscal cliff tax hikes 'might' solve 6% of our deficits for the next 10 years...maybe. More like 3%.

      that leaves at least 94% of the budget gaps unsolved. 94%. You can't solve that by sprinkling fairy dust all over it and wishing it away as if you were Tinkerbell or something.

      Now, if you insist on solving this with 'tax increases', you should have told President Obama to not sign the permanent extension of the middle class tax cuts that he did last month. Had he not signed it, $4 trillion of higher tax revenues would have flowed into Washington in the next decade thus obviating close to 50% of the budget deficits over the same time period.

      Now THAT would have made a big dent in our deficit/debt situation going forward.

      There is nothing 'small' that can be done at this stage to bring us back to balance. Big cuts, big reforms and big taxes would do it...not tiny ones

      Delete

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