Truth and Politics Don’t Mix on Entitlements

U.S. Senator Hiram Warren Johnson, a staunch isolationist, is believed to be the author of the quote, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” The same might be said for politics today. Politicians often avoid the truth because it can be unpopular.

For example, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview with Bloomberg last week, blamed Congress for its reluctance to take on entitlement reform. “It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said. “It’s a bipartisan problem—unwillingness to address the real drivers of debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”

In fairness, McConnell was conveniently overlooking the impact of the tax cuts on the debt. Everyone from budget hawk conservatives to big spending liberals can reasonably agree that the significant decline in revenue from corporate tax collections because of the rate reduction contained in the 2017 tax plan contributed to the spike in the deficit, to $779 billion.

However, McConnell is absolutely correct that Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds are in deep trouble. The non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports that these entitlement program trust funds “will all be exhausted by 2032 without action to stabilize their finances.”

Congress doesn’t want to tackle entitlement reform because it means hard choices—reduce benefits, raise the retirement…

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