THE THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE ENTITLEMENT REFORM
One of the few good things to come out of the last elections was some more clarity on the political atmosphere surrounding entitlement reform. Once again the electorate resoundingly rewarded the candidate who said little to nothing about entitlement reform, and punished the team that had the audacity to bring up the subject. It is now more clear to me than ever before that we need to take several more steps before we can even have a rational discussion on entitlement reform.
First, raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The President campaigned on taxing the wealthy "a little bit more". I assume he was alluding to the restoration of the pre-Bush tax rates on those who make more than $250,000 per year. Of course, this tax increase will have only a marginal effect on the annual budget deficit, which has been running at more than a trillion dollars per year for the last five years. But symbolically, the average voter must see that the wealthy are paying their "fair share", whatever that is, before even listening to an argument about changing entitlement programs.
Second, cut defense spending substantially. The average voter is no longer interested in watching American blood and treasure being expended in far away lands filled with people who hate us no matter what we do. They are also tired of America as world policeman, accepting responsibility for defending Europeans, Japanese and others who have plenty of wealth to spend on defense but instead, since they are covered by our military, choose to spend their money on other things, like their own welfare states.
Third, cut all other programs to the bone. Starting with foreign aid, then moving on to various and sundry other subsidies.
Once we have taken these three steps, no matter how self-destructive, then, perhaps, the average voter will awaken to the fact that the real money is in the entitlement programs and only the reform of those programs will stop the flow of red ink.