Never mind the abundant evidence of the violent impulses of the Occupy Wall Street movement: Democrats are happy to associate themselves with the movement by appropriating their language. Yesterday, Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski led what she called an “occupation” of the Joint Select Committee for Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. the Super Committee) to warn committee members not to cut Social Security or healthcare (h/t David Hauptmann):
“Are we ready to fight?” Mikulski asked the standing-room-only crowd at the event in support of Social Security held with Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
The response? An emphatic “yes.”
“Social Security did not cause the deficit. It did not cause the debt,” Mikulski said. “My solution — let’s bring those troops home. Let’s bring our money back home, and let’s bring our jobs back home.”
What irresponsible fear-mongering on Mikulski’s part! Perhaps Social Security alone did not cause the deficit — but it’s absolutely a contributing factor. Combine it with the other major entitlement programs and it is arguably the largest driver of our debt and deficit problem. By 2049, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will consume all tax revenues. Medicare spending is adding to future deficits faster than any other spending.
OK, but defense spending is comparably problematic, right? It’s just a difference in priorities? Rs favor funding defense, Ds favor funding entitlements? Nope. Defense spending is nowhere near the level of entitlement spending. Two graphs to illustrate my point:
As this chart illustrates, completely eliminating vital defense spending would still not solve the entitlement spending problem.
And, as this second chart illustrates, entitlement debt dwarfs other spending.
Yes, it’s scary for seniors to consider a future without Social Security. But only Democrats are suggesting we risk implosion. The Big Three entitlement programs are unsustainable unless we take steps to reform them. And what are the steps the Super Committee has considered? Nothing more drastic than raising the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages, raising co-pays and premiums for Medicare and making adjustments to the cost-of-living benefit formula. These are not extreme; they’re sensible. If even something so small as raising the retirement age is off-limits, my generation is really right to not expect Social Security to be around when we hit that retirement age. Great, we’ll hit it faster — but, by then, it’ll just be an age, no hint of guaranteed retirement about it.
P.S. I don’t really fault Dems for appropriating the term “occupy.” Some of my favorite tweets these days do the same. I particularly like The Heritage Foundation’s James Carfano’s recent advice to protesters to “occupy … a desk.”