Faced with unpleasant alternatives, Congress sometimes simply ignores problems. Its recent “solution” to the fiscal cliff is a case in point. Rather than face the problem, Congress has adopted temporary measures, postponed deadlines and, on some issues, simply ignored any action.
Federal entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicare, federal pensions and the like – are at the heart of our budget problems. The difference between the projected revenues dedicated to fund these entitlements and the projected outlays is estimated to be between $60 and $99 trillion. The lower estimates amount to $189,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States or $756,000 for every family of four. Even the most modest efforts to adjust these programs in order to save them have been attacked as heartless. The AARP and others vow to defeat anyone who would try to adjust benefits. Our system has become so responsive to special interests that the most common sense type of reforms become impossible even though many of the programs will become insolvent without major reform.
With this year's annual deficit at $3,600 for every man, woman and child in the United States, it’s clear that we have been unable to face up to our fiscal challenges. Congress could use a bit of "Colorado Courage."
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