That’s an analysis is search of seriousness.
And we’re glad you brought up Big Bird and PBS in making it. If defense were cut by $200 billion, a 35% cut, it amounts to a deficit reduction of 20% in the federal budget. I’m not denigrating that, and I feel that defense will be cut,just when it probably ought to be increased given world affairs and the state of its R&D budget…but it won’t be cut by 35%. Assuming it were though, and the cuts remained over the next five years, that equates to only one year of federal deficit spending. Another $800 billion annually must be found. The PBS budget is chump change by comparison, but cutting it does offer one benefit not available to defense spending cuts; eliminating PBS spending offers permanent savings. We don’t need PBS while we’re always going to need defense. Both should be cut. One permanently.
There is no “compromise” position between cutting defense and cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Defense is a part of discretionary spending, and it may be cut, frozen, or altered at any time. If we merely freeze it, attrition and inflation reduce its budget all on their own. MC, MC, and SS are non-discretionary spending, meaning they increase all on their own. We’re not only adding to the ranks of each every day, they are subject to inflation indexing which further increases their costs. That’s why sequester, which falls disproportionately on defense, does nothing for the long term…meaning next year…deficit spending problem. There is no current proposal to stop people aging, retiring, or needing insurance in their retirement years.
Another way of looking at it is imaging a snow storm. Defense is snow falling on a lake with slow accumulations, until the wind comes up and drifts form. Entitlement spending on MC, MC, and SS is snow falling on a long hillside with a snow ball rolling down it. As long as the ball keeps rolling, and the snow keeps falling, it will get larger and larger as time goes own. Even if the snow stops falling, accumulations on the lake remain…yet do not increase, and actually decrease over time, yet the snow ball keeps rolling, picking up whatever snow remains in its path.
The number remains $1 trillion. Find it and you haven’t reduced the debt by a dime. The only question, and it is not open to compromise, is how Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security get reformed to slow their growth to manageable levels. Obviously, a growing economy is the only answer to long term sustainability. The $64 question is whether or not any Medicaid program can be reformed enough to still meet the criteria of Medicaid and not be a fiscal snowball. 16% of the nation are already on Medicare. When Democrats claim that Republicans such as Paul Ryan “want to end Medicare as we know it” they are probably correct, and they are also stating the only solution to the nation’s fiscal woes. Medicaid will also have to be reformed, if only because of Obamacare and the fact that, when Medicare is phased out, it will put pressure on Medicaid. SS is easily fixable through a variety of actions that threaten relatively few…in a political sense. There will be relatively little debate on indexing benefits for income, raising the retirement age, and removing the cap on taxable earnings.
A serious argument will not involve defense spending or Big Bird, anymore than it will involve agriculture subsidies…all otherwise worthy topics regarding spending cuts. A serious discussion will involve one single topic; the fundamental idea behind Medicare, that elderly people cannot buy affordable health insurance on the open market. And yeah, along the way we can “compromise” and eliminate federal flood insurance.