In the above video, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) made a lot of noise with his promise to cut $100 billion in government spending per year over 10 years, for total cuts of $1 trillion. However, when reporters in the above video asked what Boehner was going to do in regards to Social Security and Medicare, he slipped into political double-speak, claiming that, "we should have an adult conversation [on entitlement programs]" and that, "if we show we can work with the American people, I believe they will want to work with us." This weak attitude on spending was shared by other House Republicans, who scaled back their promised spending cuts by half, to only $50 billion per year.
The fact is, Social Security and Medicare are the two biggest non-defense spending items in the federal budget. See the below pie chart:
Social Security and Medicare together made up 32.42% of our federal budget in 2009. Add in Medicaid, SCHIP, welfare and unemployment benefits, and the figure increases to over 56.74%, or a total of almost $2 trillion dollars. Any "adult conversation" politicians want to have about federal spending must include ways to decrease or eliminate the welfare state.
The only way to end the welfare state and truly solve our budgetary problems is to make the case on moral, not political grounds. Politicians should be clear that using force to confiscate wealth from one group and transfer it to another group is immoral and violates individual rights. Every human being possesses the right to life, liberty, and property, which are his only tools for survival. Redistribution of wealth via taxation violates one's right to property, and should not be allowed. If tomorrow I robbed Bill Gates to give to senior citizens, I would be rightly arrested for theft. Why is it any different if the government does it?
Until we muster the nerve to challenge traditional entitlement programs on a moral basis, the government will continue to spend money it doesn't have and bring the country ever closer to economic collapse.
What do you think? Is the welfare state justified and off the table when it comes to budget cuts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
-Morgan Polotan is a policy intern with the Charles G. Koch Foundation and writes a blog of his own, which can be read here.