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March 16, 2011

DOOM! It's what's for Dinner Breakfast!

Let's just slap the bad news down on the table like a dead carp: mandatory federal spending now outstrips federal revenues.

The key word is here is "mandatory". The nation finds itself in the position of being legally obligated to spend more money than it takes in as revenue.

This means that every single dime we spend on anything else -- roads, national parks, even parts of the national defense apparatus -- have to be paid out of borrowed money, or cut back entirely. Put differently: even if all these "discretionary" programs were free, we'd still have a deficit. As Jeffrey Anderson points out in the linked article, this state of affairs came about nearly 50 years before many in the government thought it would.

Most of the mandatory federal budget goes to just three programs: Social Security, Medicare, and the federal portion of Medicaid.

This is why people who insist on "other cuts first!" are completely missing the scope of the problem. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: our government now is mainly in the business of spending money on senior citizens. Never mind whether or not this is a laudable or moral purpose -- we can't afford it any more. From now on, debt-service is going to contend with social-welfare spending, and something has got to give. That "something" is going to take the form of benefit cuts to entitlement beneficiaries, I guarantee you, because the only thing our government fears more than pissed off old folks is pissed off bondholders.

I keep telling people that it's not a question of if cuts are going to happen to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- that's a mathematical certainty at this point. The real questions are "when" and "how".

(My prediction: given the spinelessness of our political class, the "how" is going to take the form of much higher taxes, dollar inflation, and a decaying national infrastructure and military.)


[UPDATE]

To ease the burn:


digg this
posted by Monty at 09:37 AM

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