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Diminishing returns

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Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

For all the talk in Washington about reforming health care while somehow, magically, containing the nation's burgeoning debt, precious little attention has focused on the prime drivers of the nation's spending -- entitlements.

For the first time in history national debt has passed $12 trillion. As more Treasury securities are sold to finance the federal deficit -- which reached a record $1.4 trillion this year -- these securities will compete with private securities. Private investment, as a result of government borrowing, will decrease.

Rather than pass the mounting bill to future generations, Congress must address the triple tsunamis: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending. Notes Nicola Moore of The Heritage Foundation, as Social Security IOUs are redeemed and health care costs drive up expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, publicly held debt by 2050 will exceed 320 percent of gross domestic product, based on Congressional Budget Office figures.

But unfortunately, unlike an irresponsible homeowner who maxes out his credit, Congress needs only to vote itself a higher credit limit. The House last week approved boosting that ceiling by $290 billion.

Doing so without addressing the drain from existing entitlements -- never mind government's health care ambitions -- digs deeper the hole of this nation's despair.

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