Nov 9 2010
Congressman Ron Paul
Monday, November 8, 2010
Last week’s midterm elections have been characterized as a victory for grassroots Americans who are fed up with Washington and the political status quo. In particular, the elections are being touted as a clear indicator that voters demand reductions in federal spending, deficits, and debt.
If the new Congress hopes to live up to the expectations of Tea Party voters, however, it faces some daunting choices. For all the talk about pork and waste, the truth is that Congress cannot fix the budget and get our national debt under control by trimming fat and eliminating earmarks for “Bridges to Nowhere.”
Real reductions in federal spending can be achieved only by getting to the meat of the federal budget, meaning expenditures in all areas. The annual budget soon will be $5 trillion unless Congress takes serious steps to reduce spending for entitlements, military, and debt service. Yet how many Tea Party candidates who campaigned on a platform of spending cuts talked about Social Security, Medicare, foreign wars, or bond debt?
With regard to entitlements, the 2010 Social Security and Medicare Trustees report tells it all. It paints a stark picture of two entitlement programs that cannot be sustained under even the rosiest scenarios of economic growth. No one, regardless of political stripe, can deny the fundamental problem of unfunded future liabilities in both programs.
We should understand that Social Security was intended primarily to prevent old widows from becoming destitute. Life expectancy in 1935 was only about 65, when there were several workers for each Social Security recipient. The program was never intended to be a general transfer payment from young workers to older retirees, regardless of those retirees’ financial need. Yet today Social Security faces an unfunded liability of approximately $18 trillion.