Obamacare Targets Entitlements - by Stephen Lendman
Meeting with the Washington Post's editorial staff on January 16, President-elect Obama pledged to reform entitlements saying the process would begin straightaway by convening a "fiscal responsibility summit" before delivering his first budget to Congress.
"What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," he said. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."
Key, he said, is reigning in entitlement costs by making "very difficult choices and....sacrifice(s)....Social Security, we can solve. The big problem is Medicare (and, of course, Medicaid covering 60 million in 2005), which (are) unsustainable."
In a major April 14 Georgetown University speech, he again highlighted the problem saying cutting health care costs and "restoring fiscal discipline" are two of the top "pillars" of his agenda.
"Let's not kid ourselves and suggest that we can solve this problem by trimming a few earmarks," he said. The "biggest cost drivers in our budget are entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, all of which get more and more expensive every year, (so) if we want to get serious about fiscal discipline - and I do - we will have to get serious about entitlement reform," implying a clear long-term goal of:
-- shifting the burden from Washington, handing it to the states, and ultimately to taxpayers directly with no government aid or indirectly through taxes.
The US Debt Clock.org shows why. Besides the official $11.9 trillion exponentially growing national debt (some economists say $15 trillion or more), the big problem is unfunded liabilities:
-- $13.9 trillion for Social Security;
-- $18.4 trillion for prescription drugs; and
-- $73.3 trillion for Medicare/Medicaid for a total of nearly $105.7 trillion.
Primarily through health care cost cuts, Obama pledged in his first year to begin controlling these unsustainable obligations.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Other Recent Reports Highlight the Problem
The CBO's June 2009 "Long-Term Budget Outlook" projects future budget deficit and national debt estimates.
Both suggest future economic decline, eventual hyperinflation, and deep erosion of personal savings. Already the national debt is more than during the Great Depression, and it's fast heading for surpassing WW II. According to the report, this burden will:
-- "reduce national saving;"