August 23, 2011

BYRON YORK: Spending, not entitlements, created huge deficit.

It’s conventional wisdom in Washington to blame the federal government’s dire financial outlook on runaway entitlement spending. Unless we rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the conventional wisdom goes, the federal government is headed for disaster.

That’s true in the long run. But what is causing massive deficits now? . . . The bottom line is that with baby boomers aging, entitlements will one day be a major budget problem. But today’s deficit crisis is not one of entitlements. It was created by out-of-control spending on everything other than entitlements. The recent debt-ceiling agreement is supposed to put the brakes on that kind of spending, but leaders have so far been maddeningly vague on how they’ll do it.

This issue could be an important one in the coming presidential race. Should Republicans base their platform on entitlement reform, or should they focus on the here and now — specifically, on undoing the damage done by Obama and his Democratic allies? In coming months, the answer will likely become clear: entitlements someday, but first things first.

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