Home > Bruce Bartlett, Budget, Entitlements > It’s an old problem

It’s an old problem

Bruce Bartlett explains why it’s so difficult to balance the budget and why spending cuts alone can’t accomplish the goal. The problem is entitlement spending – and both parties are to blame for not fixing the problem. It seems it won’t get easier either as the population continues to age.

Domestic discretionary spending amounted to $485 billion last year. With a deficit last year of $459 billion, we would have had to abolish virtually every single domestic program to have achieved budget balance. That means every penny spent on housing, education, agriculture, highway construction and maintenance, border patrols, air traffic control, the FBI, and every other thing one can think of outside of national defense, Social Security and Medicare.

This means that it is impossible to get control of spending without cutting entitlement programs. Many Republicans agree, but they never make any serious effort to do so. On the contrary, they defend entitlements when Democrats suggest cutting them.

For the record I would want to cut most of those things from the federal budget but he begins his piece reminding us that we live in a democracy. Clearly it would be politically impossible to cut ALL or even most of those programs. This just continues to remind me of how many problems like this are caused by having expanded the power of Congress beyond (what I think was) the Constitution’s original intent.

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