Washington Examiner Editorial, Aug. 12, 2012
It is fitting that the adjective most commonly used yesterday to describe Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate was “bold.” Prior to his selection, Ryan was already at the center of the great debate of our day: entitlement reform, which many politicians would just as soon ignore. Romney has now taken this issue head on. There is no going back, and his party should be very happy about that.
For eight decades, politicians have been stacking up promises of federal government aid. The resulting programs have been proven far too generous and too poorly managed to be realistic. The Medicare program as we know it is particularly unsustainable – even President Obama has admitted this.
By 2037, when today’s thirty-somethings approach retirement, federal health care entitlements and Social Security will together consume an amount equivalent to 16 percent of the national economy, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. To put that into perspective, federal tax revenues have never exceeded 21 percent of GDP in our nation’s entire history, not even when the top tax rates stood at 90 percent. Thus, in 25 years, entitlement programs will consume between 75 and 100 percent of what the federal government takes in. Even assuming the economy does not collapse under this weight, there will not be enough revenue to cover other mandatory outlays (such as debt service), and not a penny for discretionary spending (such as national defense).