August 2, 2013

Another View: Entitlement reform would free up funds to help the truly needy

By MARTIN JONES

It's true that Charlie Wynott's housing vouchers didn't create the deficit, and many may agree that "Sequester forces cuts in the wrong places" (Our View, July 27).

But neither can "two wars on the nation's credit card" nor the housing bubble be blamed forever for ongoing large deficits and growing debt. And it's incorrect to say that no attempt has been made to find spending cuts that wouldn't affect individuals like Wynott.

The indiscriminate sequester is the result of a failure by a bipartisan special commission to agree on targeted spending cuts and tax reform in 2011.

A brief look at projections makes clear that the federal budget is increasingly being driven by rapidly growing entitlement costs. which are gradually crowding out other social programs that individuals like Charlie Wynott depend on.

But significant reform of entitlement programs is anathema to liberal politicians and editorial writers. Instead, the suggestion is that "What's required is a reasonable tax policy that adequately funds the government." This is a euphemism for raising taxes on the wealthy. We have recently done that, and the effects will be to raise federal revenue above its long-term average as a percentage of gross domestic product, and to lower savings, investment, job creation and economic growth.

The country's budget problem has always been too much spending, not the lack of revenue. If entitlements were brought under control, more sequesters might not be necessary, and Charlie Wynott's vouchers might be spared. In the meantime, raising taxes isn't the simple and costless solution the Press Herald thinks it is.

Martin Jones is a resident of Freeport.

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