Republicans say they want to repeal measures that will add to government debt, such as Obamacare, and thwart others that will accelerate the growth of government. That's all well and good. But what we already have is a problem that must be addressed, and too few candidates of either party want to talk about it.
Because of the huge growth in public indebtedness, by the end of this decade, the vast majority of all federal tax revenues will go to just four things – interest payment on the debt, and the paying of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments. Entitlements will begin to eat this country alive, and they must be dealt with. By 2011, according to Money senior writer Jeanne Sahadi, “the cost of annual interest payments alone would top that of the defense budget and itself eat up more than half of all federal taxes.”
What Margaret Thatcher once said about socialism – that “eventually you run out of other people's money” – applies equally to overreaching wealth-transfer entitlements. The debt we are piling up makes it tougher for us to function domestically and to lead internationally.
We are seeing in country after country in Europe what happens when government can't sustain the obligations it has accumulated. Unless we want that painful kind of collapse here, we will have to take smaller, slightly less painful steps. Government spending on all sorts of things must be cut drastically. The tax structure needs radical change.
Republicans are in a good position right now. Voters are more unhappy with Democrats than with the GOP, so control of at least the House seems likely. Are Republicans really ready to deal with fiscal reality? For their own sakes in 2012, and all our sakes for generations to come, they'd better be.