Can we call a retiree entitlement “welfare” if seniors help to pay for it? Blameful fingers have been pointed at the budgetary havoc wreaked by public employee pensions (see: Illinois Pensions Make Bad Teachers Look Worse). Social Security, the big retirement entitlement for seniors and anyone else who can get their hands on the money, is going to do the same thing on a national scale. Is this program so expensive that we need to cut seniors loose?
Warning: entitlement welfare is piling on the debt.
When is an entitlement welfare? When the money is doled out by the government and Americans are dependent on it to get by. The fact that we make mandatory contributions doesn’t matter because someone else is going to make the decision of how much we get, when we get it, and who else benefits.
Most members of Congress can read, so we have to assume that fear is what prevents them from acting on entitlement welfare debt. For now, Democrats can bask in the glow of a Congressional Budget Office report with good news for the short term on the federal deficit that made it easy to dismiss warnings about Americans quitting their jobs because they can get health insurance elsewhere.* It also made it easy to overlook what the CBO said about long-term debt. We’ve been so busy shooting holes in Obamacare that we lost touch with getting federal debt under control. Instead, Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass farm and budget bills that made a mockery of spending cuts.
The report delivered a bleak appraisal of the state of the economy after Obama leaves the White House:
Beyond 2017, CBO expects that economic growth will diminish to a pace that is well below the average seen over the past several decades.¹
Americans are getting older and more seniors mean more entitlement costs.² Instead of worrying about how we are going to support future retirees, should Washington cut them loose?
Do seniors deserve a government pension?
They do if they are forced to pay for it. The Federal Government is used to reneging on promises, but backing out of a bargain Democrats keep telling people they don’t have to worry about will be a tough sell (see: Government Should End Social Security Retirement Promises). The GOP won’t have much of a stomach for confronting their constituents with a Social Security cutback, either, much less pondering the end of this entitlement or its health care counterpart, Medicare.
The return on investment used to make Social Security the kind of big government bargain the president likes to support. Not anymore. This raises two questions that argue for eliminating entitlement welfare for seniors:
If your investments in Social Security and Medicare would bring greater returns somewhere else, why would you want to use your money to fund these entitlements?
If the returns are more than you invest, why should the government fund you?
Social Security has grown to be much more than a pension for retirees. The program has truly become entitlement welfare, covering needy Americans from cradle to grave, including the disabled and children. Why? Because it’s not your money. It’s the government’s money.
How can our government continue to help pay for retiree health care and pensions? Because politicians are afraid to admit that the day will come when their bargain with the people will have to be broken.
Entitlement welfare for seniors, or personal responsibility?
Should we fund entitlement welfare safety nets? Americans have been handed the illusion of financial security in retirement. Changes are going to have to be made that will shatter that illusion.
Republican efforts to let Americans invest part of their Social Security contributions failed. No matter. The money taken from our paychecks was never ours. The contributions are taxes being tossed into a pool, so we would be better off taking responsibility for our own retirements and health care in anticipation of the day when the government gets rid of entitlement welfare altogether. Will that ever happen? Of course not. As long as Americans buy into government taking care of them in their old age Washington has a powerful stick to hold over us. Some probably like it that way. They are the same ones who will quit their jobs because of Obamacare.
*Honestly, is this a bad thing? Do you want someone working for you who only cares about the benefits?