The present political consensus is crumbling. For decades higher benefits for the elderly were effectively paid for by reducing defense spending -- not by raising taxes or cutting other programs. In 1960, defense was 52 percent of the budget; in 2005, it's 19 percent. After Sept. 11, 2001, military spending won't shrink much more, but even if it disappeared, the savings wouldn't cover future spending on the elderly. The same, incidentally, is true of President Bush's tax cuts; even if they were eliminated, the resulting tax increases would only curb today's deficits -- not pay for tomorrow's spending.The seniors know how to get a bigger slice.Can this go on forever? We doubt it.But,we've got to say it's pretty impressive rent-seeking when Warren Buffett can get free medical care just because he's over 65.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Robert Samuelson reports:
Posted by Steve Bartin at 2:36 PM