There is an important truth about our fiscal condition, recognized by insiders, but avoided in public discourse. The fact is; reform of our 20th Century entitlement plans is improbable, even with political will. The reason, of course, the 20Century politicians whose names adorn public buildings and highways, as well as the men with the libraries, promised too much, for too many, and for too long.
We must start over ! This was what Congressman Ryan was suggesting in his budget proposal. Ryan’s proposal needs a lot of revision, but the essence of his plan was a Medicare entitlement capitulation. This does not mean Medicare will go away. It only means it will not work as it was designed.
Conversely, President Obama is living in a dream world ! When you read his counter proposal you get the feeling he don’t want to change nothing; just a little tweak here and there. But, Obama does not have the luxury of time and personal retirement as his 20 Century counterparts. And, the President wants to deal with “adults”. Maturity needs to show up everywhere, especially newly elected congressmen in 2012.
As the two parties confer, consider some of the “off the table” as reported by the Wall Street Journal this morning.
RAISING TAXES : Raising taxes will be essential. You cannot “grow the economy” to deal with the kind of debt we are facing.
LETTING THE BUSH ERA TAX CUTS EXPIRE : The tax cuts should have never been implemented.
ANY KIND OF VOUCHER PROGRAM FOR MEDICARE: There is too much fraud and inequity in fee for service. Surely, Democrats can figure that out.
BLOCK GRANTS FOR MEDICARE: A block grant would reinforce the primary state obligation.
As this great debate progresses, day by day, you will see the same old politicians from both parties with their eye on the next election. Carefully, playing their mind games with the public, which has been so successful for career politicians and so destructive for the rest of us.
Another “compromise” which does not confront the debt realities, will further reinforce the public perception of the incompetence of their government. Yet, it will take a few election cycles to get serious people in office and time is the enemy.