By Matt Vespa
The national debt is over 16 trillion dollars. The unfunded liabilities of our entitlement programs is between 80-100 trillion. This is a serious problem, and no one on Capitol Hill seems interested in trying to return our nation to fiscal sanity. Republicans have offered a new plan that balances the budget by 2023, but it all hinges on the repeal of Obamacare. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, the president offered a $3.7 trillion dollar budget that’s loaded with almost $600 billion in new taxes, mainly targeting the job creating and investing class. Yet, as the debt – and the scope of government – grows, young Americans don’t seem worried. In fact, a large government isn’t seen as pernicious in the slightest to most Millennials. Nevertheless, it’s hard to get on your feet – and become economically productive – when you graduate college with debt the size of a home mortgage loan.
Nevertheless, polling of young Americans shows them as being dazed and confused on this issue. I wrote last February on PJ Media’s Tatler blog that we’re becoming the “dazed and confused” generation. I cited a New York Times story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg:
On a central philosophical question of the day — the size and scope of the federal government — a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force, a point he intends to make in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.[...]Under-30 voters are “the only age group in which a majority said the government should do more to fix problems,” the nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported in November. In a Pew survey a year earlier, more than 8 in 10 said they believed that Social Security and Medicare had been good for the country, and they were especially supportive of seeing the programs overhauled so they would be intact when they retire. (Young people were also more open than their elders to privatizing the programs.)And while Washington fights about how to cut the federal deficit, young voters believe that it is more important to create jobs, have affordable access to health care and develop “a world-class education system,” according to the Institute of Politics at Harvard… one attendee, Michael Graef, an 18-year-old who started a fitness business rather than attend college, said he rarely thought about the deficit.“Education is top on my list,” he said. “If everybody is better educated, most of the other issues can work themselves out.”
Yet, you see the contradiction. Young Americans are for a large government, but are open to privatizing the welfare programs that make government more intrusive in our financial lives. Furthermore, when you privatize a government program, it means that it wasn’t good for the country. That’s why the private sector took over management.
There is an argument to be made the leaving the next generation with such a massive amount of debt is immoral. It prevents them from maximizing their economic output, thus reducing the amount of success potentially earned – which dampens the entrepreneurial mindset. The same argument can be made with student loan debt, which exploded once government became more involved.
As congress debates immigration reform, the debt will increase more rapidly. As we prepare to make a pathway for illegal aliens to obtain legal status, and eventually citizenship, Washington seems to forget that Obamacare grants some health care benefits to legal aliens. After five years of residency, legal aliens become eligible for health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The result is increasing the price tag of Obamacare by at least 500 billion dollars. That’s on top of the 1 trillion we’ve spent on this new health care entitlement.
As Philip Klein on the Washington Examiner wrote last January:
[T]he CBO estimated that the law would cover an additional 11 million people on Medicaid (at a cost of $643 billion from 2013 through 2022) and 25 million through the exchanges (at a cost of just over $1 trillion over the same period). So, for every additional 1 million people on Medicaid, the federal government will be spending about $58 billion over the next decade and for every 1 million people on the exchange, taxpayers would be spending about $41 billion. Projecting this out for 8 million new beneficiaries would give a range of $328 billion to $464 billion.
Hence, why the first question from Millennials concerned about the debt should be how will you pay for inevitable expansion of the welfare state? For conservatives, it’s a question they should pitch to Sen. Marco Rubio. As George Will described at CPAC three years ago, a classic case of moral hazard is brewing, as more and more Americans begin receiving benefits from a government that they’re not paying for due to declining tax participation. A middle class tax hike – and a Millennial enslavement of debt – are inevitable. As liberals slam Rep. Paul Ryan as the enemy of Medicare, the true enemy – demographics – waits patiently to destroy the social safety net that’s so revered in progressive circles.