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Spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid currently consumes 45 percent of the federal budget, and each year that percentage increases. Within 25 years, federal spending on Social Security and health programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare will exceed 14 percent of GDP. Historically the federal government has only collected between 17 and 18 percent of GDP in taxes, meaning little if any funding would be available for national security or other priorities.
The health and retirement benefits promised by politicians in the past are not affordable. National debt growing rapidly, and the unfunded obligations of Medicare and Social Security are close to $50 trillion.
This bleak future was preceded by a half century that saw nearly $20 trillion spent on the War on Poverty. Poverty rates remain stagnant, self-sufficiency languishes, and too many are trapped and brutalized by a dysfunctional welfare system. Nearly $1 trillion spent each year on close to 80 means-tested welfare programs has done too little to lift people out of poverty, and spending cannot be sustained at this level.
It is time to reform our entitlement and welfare programs to encourage people to be self-reliant while protecting the vulnerable. Social Security and Medicare must transition away from providing benefits to everyone and instead focus on providing a safety net for low-income seniors while allowing younger Americans to save, invest, and insure themselves for future retirement and health needs. Programs that are means-tested need to aim at providing temporary assistance that allows people to overcome their hardships and become self-sufficient and productive citizens.
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