Free Markets, Free People
Government dependency climbs aided by Republicans
If you haven’t seen the Heritage Foundation report on government dependency for this year, you need to spend some time at least perusing it. Some of the charts will shock you.
I’m planning on looking at different parts of it over the next few weeks as appropriate and I get the time.
We often hear the Democrats cited as the reason we’re in this mess today, but that’s a cop out. The right in the guise of the Republican party are just as guilty as the Democrats. In fact, I’d argue they’re more guilty. The reason we’re in this mess today is because over the years the Republicans have accommodated the Democrats by compromising their principles.
The most recent examples are Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind – two huge government programs one of which put a new entitlement in place and the other which increased federal control of education (at an equally huge cost).
Here’s a quote from the Heritage Foundation report I’d like you to focus on:
The last decade has seen a significant expansion of benefits provided by Medicare, including the new prescription drug benefit created under Medicare Part D. From 2004 to 2010, Part D was responsible for $214 billion in federal spending. Though the role of competition in its defined-contribution model has caused estimates of its 10-year cost to drop 41 percent from initial CMS projections, the program has added substantially to health care entitlement spending. Additionally, the publicly funded Part D program has crowded out private coverage alternatives. Research by economists Gary Engelhardt and Jonathan Gruber suggests that before Medicare Part D was enacted, 75 percent of seniors currently receiving public coverage held private drug coverage. Part D also increased average spending on prescription drugs by seniors, an expense that is funded by an increase in public spending of 184 percent, accompanied by a reduction in seniors’ out-of-pocket spending of 39 percent and private insurance plan spending of 37 percent.
First, remember that we’re talking about the “richest” demographic in our country when we talk about seniors. Yes, everyone knows that, like every demographic, there are exceptions, but for the most part, seniors are pretty well set.
Now, notice the effect that this program has had. It has “added substantially to health care entitlement spending” It has “crowded out private coverage alternatives”. And it has “increased the average spending on prescription drugs by seniors … funded by an increase in public spending of 184%”.
So A) it increased public spending in an ear in which we can’t afford increased public spending, B) it basically destroyed a market that was apparently working prior to its implementation C) the taxpayer is on the hook for more spending as seniors, who now pay less out of pocket, shift the cost to them.
This wasn’t a program supported just by the left, folks. This was negotiated, passed and signed into law with the blessing of a Republican President.
THIS is why we’re in the mess we’re in. THIS is where the precedent for ObamaCare was set.
As much as the other candidates want to hit Mitt Romney on RomneyCare (and they should), one should remember that Rick Santorum voted for Part D (although he now says that was a “mistake”) and Newt Gingrich lobbied for it.
It is those sorts of compromises and accommodations which have put us in the mess we’re in today. The party of smaller government has consistently caved in to larger government programs all the while hollering about the left.
This is one reason there’s so much disgust on the right with the party, at least among activists and Tea Party types.
As I said, I’m going to be spending some time on this report, but this is one area that needs to be illuminated and discussed. If the GOP ever wants to recover its soul, it has to quit compromising its principles and find a way to explain, in a compelling way, why programs like this are the wrong way to go. They managed that with ObamaCare. They need to take that lesson and translate it into all future actions.
They need to back away from the trough of federal money and truly embrace smaller less costly government. In terms of entitlement and dependency, if we’re not at a tipping point, we’re very close. The critical nature of this upcoming election can’t be over emphasized.
If ObamaCare becomes law, we’re sunk. I believe it was Margaret Thatcher who said the reason she wasn’t able to accomplish as much as Ronald Reagan was because of the National Health Service.
Unfortunately, since Reagan’s time subsequent Republican administrations have helped build one here.