From Megan McArdle comes the following about the pending health care bill, our many other social programs, and sustainability.
But there is one thing of which I am nearly perfectly certain: If we pass this thing, no American politician, left or right, is going to cut any of these programs, or raise the broad-based taxes necessary to pay for them, without any compensating goodies to offer the public . . . until the crisis is almost upon us. I can think of no situation, other than impending crisis, in which such a thing has been done--and usually, as with Social Security, they have done just little enough to kick the problem down the road. The idea that you pass a program of dubious sustainability because you can always make it sustainable later, seems borderline insane. I can't think of a single major entitlement that has become more sustainable over time. Why is this one supposed to be different?[emphasis mine]
Social Security is crashing. Now.
Medicare has been crashing. For years.
Entitlement spending has been driving deficits. For decades.
The current health care "reforms" are arranged so that the taxes kick in early while the benefits kick in late.....if ever.
It is long past the time when we should have had a serious national conversation about exactly how much government spending we can live with. It is long past the time when we should have had a serious conversation about spending priorities, and selecting which federal programs were going to be ended so that the ones we truly need can survive.
"None of the above" makes a lousy basis for a government budget. Based on the current bunch of elected Congresscritters, that is the only option left after decades of "All of the above" legislation.