“America’s Teetering Tower of Unkeepable Promises”

George Will, on the enormity of what just occurred:

On Sunday, as will happen every day for two decades, another 10,000 baby boomers became eligible for Social Security and Medicare. And Congress moved closer to piling a huge new middle-class entitlement onto the rickety structure of America’s Ponzi welfare state. Congress has a one-word response to the demographic deluge and the scores of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities: “More.”

There will be subsidized health insurance for families of four earning up to $88,200 a year, a ceiling certain to be raised, repeatedly. The accounting legerdemain spun to make this seem affordable — e.g., cuts (to Medicare) and taxes (on high-value insurance plans) that will never happen — is Enronesque.

As America’s teetering tower of unkeepable promises grows, so does the weight of government, in taxes and mandates that limit investments and discourage job creation. America’s dynamism, and hence upward social mobility, will slow, as the economy becomes what the party of government wants it to be — increasingly dependent on government-created demand.

Promoting dependency is the Democratic Party’s vocation. The party knows that almost all entitlements are forever, and those that are not — e.g., the lifetime eligibility for welfare, repealed in 1996 — are not for the middle class. Democrats believe, plausibly, that middle-class entitlements are instantly addictive and, because there is no known detoxification, that class, when facing future choices between trimming entitlements or increasing taxes, will choose the latter. The taxes will disproportionately burden high earners, thereby tightening the noose of society’s dependency on government for investments and job creation.

Eventually, of course, the government will run out of other people’s money. I shudder to think about the wrenching realignment that will be required then.

4 thoughts on ““America’s Teetering Tower of Unkeepable Promises”

  1. I am having a hard time getting worked up about the health care bill. We already had government health care, it was only for the old-rich and the poor. We spend more of our GDP on health care than any other western country. We are, or were, the only western country without a health care plan like this. Getting this wasn't radical, _not_ having was radical. What was unsustainable was, and probably still is, the rising cost of health care. Our property taxes are exploding because of it, as are other costs.

    As far as the welfare state, I think health-care should be thought of as the same as any other sort of infrastructure in a country. It's like roads and the military. Unless someone is raving libertarian, no one really expects those two to be private. We need a good health-care infrastructure so that people aren't bankrupted by unexpected illness, and so workers can start companies and change jobs based on opportunity, not be locked in somewhere simply because they get health benefits.

    Is this plan perfect? No, but it's an important step to moving our country into the 20th century, we're only a couple of decades late in getting there.

  2. David W-H is delusional if he believes that the current Obamanation does any of the things he "deemed" important. In fact ObamaKare will do nothing to lower the cost of health care; It is NOT deficit neutral; it doesn't create choice it KILLS choice.

    Already many of the Washingtards that passed the piece of flotsam are discovering hidden things in the bill they don't like that they would know about if they only read the F-ing bill. Congress has lowered themselves to a whole new depth of idiocrity.

  3. Take it easy, Cracked — David is a friend of mine. I generally agree with the substance of your argument, but your hostile tone is counterproductive.

    David, the government healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid, are financially unsustainable. Obamacare shoves more people into a broken system. All of the gimmicks used to camouflage the costs of the bill — Medicare double-counting, paying for six years of benefits with 10 years of tax increases, pretending that massive tax increases will not affect the pace of GDP growth — will not alter the fact that we've created a huge new entitlement that we can't afford. Now that we have a European style of healthcare system, look forward to the Europe-level taxation to come.

  4. "Now that we have a European style of healthcare system, look forward to the Europe-level taxation to come."

    You forgot about European style unemployment rates which are historically considerably higher than ours. At least they used to be.

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