Spending cuts and reforms to government entitlement programs are very necessary, according to an interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on National Public Radio. The interview was broadcast nationally on Thursday morning. Pelosi said that she feels the government should be scrutinizing every dollar in the budget in order to reduce costs and prevent future generations of Americans from paying for financial mistakes made today. This applies as much to the defense budget as it does “on the domestic side,” she said.
Other segments of the interview featured Pelosi praising the recent budget agreement, saying the rise in taxes on the most wealthy Americans brings “more fairness” to the policies. She also said she hopes that reforming programs such as Medicare and Social Security will extend them for future generations, and make them stronger today. While she supports reform of these entitlements, she does not support any cutbacks in their benefits.
If the current spending levels continue the U.S. will be $4 trillion in debt within a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. In order to prevent this, there it is necessary to seriously reform the nation’s largest entitlement program, Medicare.
One possible reformation of the program was proposed in the New York Times in May. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, proposed what he calls “graduated eligibility.” This system would offer Medicare coverage earlier for older Americans who live in poverty, and would push the date for wealthy Americans past 70-years-old.
There have also been other proposals for reforming the entitlements, but none have been embraced by more than a handful of Democrats. The majority of liberals refuse to consider major reform to Medicare or to Social Security.
The Republicans aren’t in the free and clear here, either. Their refusal to accept the reform of corporate taxes that create more of a tax burden for the nation’s largest companies is as dangerous as the lack of comprehensive entitlement reform. While the recent deal ended a payroll tax holiday that means the middle class will once again pay more than 6 percent of their paychecks to the government, it also gave more than $46 billion in tax breaks to corporations.
Without Republicans asking more from corporations and Democrats agreeing to scale back entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, the current government debt will continue to grow. Taxpayers deserve a bipartisan effort to truly be accountable for budgets and government spending, but it seems to be little more than a fantasy right now.