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Catching a Falling Financial Knife

Time for Congress to Reject the Welfare / Warfare State

Politics / US Politics Nov 08, 2010 - 12:22 PM GMT

By: Dr_Ron_Paul

Politics

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.

First, Congress needs to stop using payroll taxes for purposes not related to Social Security, which was a trick the Clinton administration used to claim balanced budgets. Second, Congress should eliminate unconstitutional spending - including unnecessary overseas commitments - and use the saved funds to help transition to a Social Security system that is completely voluntary. At some point in the near future Congress must allow taxpayers to opt out of federal payroll taxes in exchange for never receiving Social Security benefits.

Medicare similarly faces a shortfall of $30.8 trillionin unfundedfuture benefits. The Part D prescription drug benefit accounts for approximately $15.5 trillion, or half of the unfunded Medicare liability. Congress should immediately repeal the disastrous drug benefit passed in 2003 by President Bush and a Republican Congress.

Fiscal conservatives should not be afraid to attack entitlements philosophically. We should reject the phony narrative that entitlement programs are inherently noble or required by "progressive" western values. Why exactly should Americans be required, by force of taxation, to fund retirement or medical care for senior citizens, especially senior citizens who are comfortable financially? And if taxpayers provide retirement and health care benefits to some older Americans who are less well off, can't we just call it welfare instead of maintaining the charade about "insurance" and "trust funds"?

Military spending and interest on the national debt similarly represent large federal expenditures that Congress must address by rethinking our foreign policy and exercising far greater oversight over the Federal Reserve and the Treasury department.

I have for a long time criticized our interventionist foreign policy and the Fed, and I will continue to do so. It's time for Congress to face the fundamental problems that affect Social Security and Medicare, and show the courage necessary to make real changes to both programs by rejecting the welfare/warfare state.

Dr. Ron Paul
Project Freedom

Congressman Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency. He is known among both his colleagues in Congress and his constituents for his consistent voting record in the House of Representatives: Dr. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution. In the words of former Treasury Secretary William Simon, Dr. Paul is the "one exception to the Gang of 535" on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Ron Paul Archive

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Comments

Rick
08 Nov 10, 21:56
Time For Congress To Reject "More Of The Same"

Yes, we know that these are indeed desperate times (and that some hard decisions in taming the federal budget will undoubtedly be rendered), but we are facing a situation here and now. The issue not only is jobs, but jobs bearing (at a minimum) a living wage.

As unpalatable as it may appear to some, stringent punitive duties on all imported goods and services are the surest and quickest way of achieving that goal (jobs that put butter on the table and the children to school). The country was flat on its back during the last Depression, and that was precisely why corporate executives and labor chieftains collectively made a strategic decision in 1929. These leaders lobbied Congress hard for a tariff act so massive in scale that it would effectively seal the borders tight from the influx of all foreign goods. Much to his credit, former President Hoover signed such a bill on June 17, 1930, and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act became the law of the land.

The alternative is the unthinkable: To continue to pursue the course of "more of the same", and we all know by now where that yellow brick road will lead to.


time
10 Nov 10, 13:38
right wing propaganda

The word entitlements is right wing propaganda. The pension system is what you are talking about. People paid into that and do.

The outright USG insurance for too big to fail companies and nuclear power is massive and obscene. Let hear the numbers on that.

Let us here the numbers on the USG military adventures and wounded vets cost and the cost to replace the equipment. Then talk about the massive security apparatus being installed. Next the mercenary army being built and paid for by the US tax payer.

Let us talk about the corporation using the USG for R&D for the internet, computer, laptop, TV, Radio, for starts. Was the USG paid any money back? Was that not given for free.

Tax breaks, off shore banks and narco - investments - the washing of drug money via US banks. In that talk about the war on drugs and the 2.5 million Americans rotting in prison.

Let us talk about arms dealers and the spread of US weaponry - who pays for that?

Tell us about Asia and the 7th fleet and the SA, ME, Central Asia - lets see the numbers on the military build up there.

The open up the US horrid medical system - for profit - killing and abuse. Talk about the selling of the public economy to the rich for pennies on the dollar.

Let is hear the number of deaths to pollution and poor standards.

A Welfare state indeed RP, it is for the rich. You thoughts are one dimensional and lack any real depth.

The people deserve better, the deserve the right to liberty by law, freedom and the right to health care - and the right to fair share of the country


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