Any fiscal plan that fails to tackle military spending, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is “a sparrow’s belch in the midst of a typhoon,” said one of the chairmen of the president’s debt commission on Sunday.
Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, trashed critics as “jerks” and compared the United States to “a milk cow with 300 million teats” on CNN’s State of the Union.
If you have a career politician get up and say, “I know we can get this done. We’re going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud, and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force One, all congressional pensions,” that’s a sparrow’s belch in the midst of a typhoon.
One of those career politicians is President Barack Obama who, in his State of the Union address, called for a ban on earmarks and a five year freeze in domestic discretionary spending.
With $1.3 trillion, discretionary spending is but a third of total federal expenditures. Defense, which would be excluded from the freeze, accounts for more than $960 billion of that number. The remaining several hundreds of billions are but a fraction of what the federal governments currently spends every year.
There is only one way to balance the books, said Simpson: “you dig into the big four — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense.”
Entitlement costs are set to skyrocket in the next decade. The commission which Simpson co-chaired proposed significant spending cuts last November, even if their reforms fell short of actually restoring balance to the budget in the long run.
Immediately after the commission’s chairmen released their recommendations however, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi professed that entitlement reform “must do what is right for our seniors, who are counting on the bedrock promises of Social Security and Medicare.” The president himself has pledged to preserve Social Security “forever.” He denounced privatization as “an ill conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying [people’s] benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.”
“We’re not talking about privatization,” Simpson told CNN. “These jerks who keep dragging that up are lying. We never suggested that.”
Reform of entitlement programs coupled with defense spending cuts is the only way forward. “And anybody giving you anything different than that, you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat and give them the green weenie.”