Just When You Thought Our Fiscal Nightmare Couldn’t Get Any Worse
June 23, 2011
I’ll make you a deal: I’ll quit accusing Democrats of obstructing spending and entitlement reform when they quit obstructing spending and entitlement reform.
Now we even have the nonpartisan, sterile, unflappable Congressional Budget Office virtually predicting a “fiscal crisis,” yet the Democratic Senate hasn’t passed a budget for 785 days. There ought to be a law.
At what point will we go into panic mode? Frankly, I can’t comprehend how people are so calm now.
The major components of this fiscal doomsday outlook are entitlements — the unfunded promises approaching $100 trillion. We need to restructure those — radically — so that we don’t lose everything.
Sure, we know we have the capacity to turn this situation around. But it can’t happen before 2012 without Democratic good faith and participation.
The Democrats talk and behave as though there were no urgency. Instead, they just accuse Rep. Paul Ryan of robbing seniors of Medicare. But the facts are that his plan would preserve benefits for those who are 55 or older and phase in benefit reductions for others. If we fail to restructure the system, we’ll all end up — within a generation — not only without Medicare benefits but also with a fallen nation.
Nor are entitlements our only problem. Our annual budget deficits are also gargantuan, and the administration evidences no interest in getting them under control. President Obama not only has stubbornly refused to be serious about discretionary spending cuts but also continues to pursue failed policies guaranteed to impede economic growth, without which we simply cannot bring our budgets into balance.
For an indication of the bleakness of the economic picture, just look at today’s news-delivered gut punches. This week’s jobless claims of 429,000 are even worse than last week’s dismal numbers, making it 11 weeks in a row that we’ve been above 400,000, the number economists associate with a stable labor market. Under President George W. Bush, Democrats complained that 4.7 percent unemployment was dreadful. Now their president’s perpetual 9-plus percent is barely remarkable.
According to The Associated Press, new-home sales fell 2.1 percent in May, “to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 319,000,” which is “far below the 700,000 homes per year that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market.” All the while, the median price for new houses rose. Worst of both worlds.
Now, back to the budget and entitlements. Based on the CBO’s just-released long-term budget report, it is nearly impossible to overstate the gravity of our national financial emergency. On our present course, our national debt is in the process of swallowing whole our economy.
Projections of the nation’s impending doom have worsened: We face destruction if we don’t act, and the crisis is accelerating.
Last year, the CBO predicted our national debt would be 91 percent of gross domestic product in 2021. Now, just a year later, it is projected to be 101 percent in 2021.
It gets worse. The debt is forecasted to be 150 percent of GDP by 2030 and 200 percent by 2037. And, if you can even imagine this, it will proliferate more rapidly thereafter. On our present course, by 2035, federal interest payments will be 9 percent of our entire economy, compared with 1 percent today.
Adding insult to injury, Obamacare, which Obama fraudulently sold as an indispensable component of balancing the budget, will greatly drive up health care costs. The CBO says that mandatory federal spending on health care will increase by 86 percent, from 5.6 percent of GDP presently to 10.4 percent over the next 24 years. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Adding aggravation to insult is the recently discovered “glitch” in Obamacare that allows for more than 3 million middle-class Americans to qualify for Medicaid. Can you believe this socialist scandal?
Yet the Democrats’ only action plan is to play the class warfare card and peddle fear about the horrors of not raising the debt ceiling. They demand that Republicans agree to raise the debt ceiling when they won’t agree to implement any budgetary plans to restore fiscal sanity. No wonder the markets are plummeting. Who could possibly have confidence in our financial future under these circumstances?
Meanwhile, President Obama is hiding behind Vice President Joe Biden, who is handling the budget negotiations with congressional Republicans. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, hardly a radical, has backed out of these talks because of an impasse over taxes, and Sen. Jon Kyl is expected to follow suit. Finally! Bravo.
Desperate times, desperate measures. Hardball. No turning back.