creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
John Stossel
John Stossel
15 Oct 2014
Crumbling Constitution

Does the Constitution still matter? When it was written, Ben Franklin said the Founders gave us a republic, "… Read More.

8 Oct 2014
Poverty

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared "War on Poverty." It sounded great to me. I was taught at Princeton,… Read More.

1 Oct 2014
It's Better Now

Americans now face beheadings, gang warfare, Ebola, ISIS and a new war in Syria. It's natural to assume that … Read More.

Politicians Fiddle While Fiscal Crisis Looms

Comment

Imagine this family budget:

Last year, you earned $24,700. But you spent $37,900, incurring $13,300 in debt, and you were already $153,500 in debt.

So you say, "I promise I'll spend $300 less this year!"

Anyone can see that your cutback is pathetic and that you need to spend much less.

Yet if you add eight zeroes, that's America's budget.

The president says again that he will cut spending — but don't be fooled. He wants to spend more on some items, those he euphemistically calls "invest(ment) in the things that will help grow our economy." (As though politicians can know what a free market would reveal.)

He says he wants to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the rich — but again, don't be fooled. Even if he took every penny over $1 million from the rich, it would reduce the deficit by only $616 billion.

The politicians are spending us into oblivion. But I can't blame only them. The American people are complacent. We like the goodies. We think we're getting something for nothing. We are like alcoholics who know we have a problem but just can't resist one last fix. One more infrastructure bill or jobs plan will jumpstart the economy. Then we'll kick our spending addiction once and for all.

But we don't stop spending. Almost all budget categories grow, even when adjusted for inflation. This is a break with most of America's history. When the economy grew most dramatically, government was less than 5 percent of gross domestic product. Today, it's well over 20 percent.

Since Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty began in the late 1960s, government spending has gone up relentlessly. This is just not sustainable. So what do we do? We must cut. But I fear Americans aren't up for that. People on the street told me that the budget is out of control. But when I then asked them, "What would you cut?" most just stared ahead.

But there's plenty to cut. We can easily cut things like foreign aid, NPR, Amtrak and post office subsidies, and the war on drugs. But we should not pretend that such cuts would be enough to stop the coming crisis.

They're not. Killing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a hundred other subsidy programs would help more. But that still makes only a dent in the deficit.

To really save America, we need to cut whole departments: Commerce, Energy, Education, Agriculture, Labor. We don't need them.

Commerce just happens. It doesn't need an expensive Cabinet department that hands out money to politically connected businesses.

The same is true for the Energy and Agriculture departments. Some states now have more agriculture bureaucrats than farmers!

Education is not a federal responsibility. Federal spending of $106 billion a year has not raised test scores one bit.

Now I've cut $329 billion. It's still not enough.

The military is about a fifth of the budget. I want to support our troops, but we could do that and save money if the administration would shrink the military's mission to what it is supposed to be: protecting us from external threats. We cannot put America on a road to solvency without cutting military spending, too.

Of course, what will really bankrupt America are entitlements, especially Medicare. That's the big one.

Why even call it an entitlement? Are we entitled to the money? People think we are, but the money is taken from the taxpayers — by force. The program is totally unsustainable. We now live so long that most of us get back about three times what we paid into these programs.

So we have to raise the retirement age, maybe index it to life spans, and turn Medicare into an insurance plan that sustains itself. That will mean that if I want the latest in high-end medicine, I have to pay for it myself.

We're on the way to becoming Greece — while our "leaders" stand and watch. A catastrophe is happening before our eyes, but the politicians won't act to avert it. How did they ever end up with enough power to sink our society?

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="http://www.johnstossel.com" <http://www.johnstossel.com>>johnstossel.com</a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
I agree that we must make savage cuts. And i addition, all must pay some income taxes. Everyone must understand that there is a cost to government. somehow the avalanche of new disability claims must be slowed. It seems we're creating and larger and larger group of Americans who have decided just to live off the government. As you say, that is unsustainable.
Good luck on stopping this disaster in the making!!!!!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Glenn Walker
Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:47 AM
Bravo Mr Stossel! Spot on analysis. The sheople are not ready to give up thier national government largess.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Jeff Johnson
Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:00 AM
Tch, tch, tch, John - it's the government employee retirement pensions that are killing us - do you know they can retire at age 55 without a penalty? I say what's good for the goose is good for the gander - let's raise their retirement age to 67 - and how about making Social Security and Medicare only for the needyj? Why do we have people retiring (even from some CA cities collecting as much as $150K/year in pension benefits and still able to collect Social Security??? Or "double dippers"??? I also think if they gave the money directly to the people and did away with all the government jobs required to manage it, there would be no one on welfare, no one on food stamps, no one needing medical insurance -because they could pay for it themselves.
Comment: #3
Posted by: rusureuwant2know
Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:54 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
John Stossel
Oct. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Brent Bozell
Ben Shapiro
Ben ShapiroUpdated 22 Oct 2014
Jacob Sullum
Jacob SullumUpdated 22 Oct 2014

17 Oct 2012 Bad Rules

11 Apr 2007 The Edifice Complex

10 Feb 2010 Hurtling Down the Road to Serfdom