The picture only gets worse from here. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that annual spending on all entitlement programs will increase from $2 trillion in 2011 to nearly $3.3 trillion in 2021. That’s almost the size of all federal spending today.
CBO estimates that spending on just the three major entitlement programs will increase from 10.4 percent of GDP in 2011 to 12.4 percent of GDP in 2021. With baby boomers starting to retire and health care costs rising, that figure will jump to 16.4 percent of GDP by 2035 and to nearly 19 percent of GDP by 2050.
Because Obama’s past budgets put off reforming entitlements, more debt (or taxpayer dollars) will go toward them than would be needed otherwise. Delay is not the solution. What is needed are good ideas and political will from the President and Congress to reform these programs so they work better and are more affordable. Entitlement reform means the programs will actually be around for seniors who need them, and it means future generations won’t find themselves saddled with sky-high tax rates to pay for entitlements. In the President’s budget proposal this year, he should be honest about what doing nothing to tackle entitlement programs means for the country’s spending and debt crisis. Then he should offer his plan to solve that problem.
President Obama’s past budget proposals did little if anything to address Washington’s spending crisis. Ignoring entitlements—the real drivers of future deficits—only made things worse. This time around, the President should lay out a truly bold vision for America: one that will tackle the grave challenges presented by entitlement programs, fully fund the nation’s defense capabilities, and lay the groundwork for a robust, thriving economy though fundamental tax reform. If the President needs ideas, he should look to The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan, which would accomplish all of these goals.