February 14, 2011

Entitlement reform still needed from the budget

Matthew D. Mitchell

Senior Research Fellow

President Obama’s proposed budget does little to tackle entitlement spending, even though many worry about the feasibility of paying for these promises.  Our current spending is problematic, but our future commitments to spend are impossible.

Today, spending as a share of the economy is about 17 percent above the average share over the last 35 years. But in another 35 years, spending as a share of the economy will be twice its historical average.  In my view, meaningful spending reform must start with the projected future growth in entitlement spending. 

Beyond the need to address entitlements, the deficit could be helped if more politicians were willing to get rid of the spending exceptions that everyone makes.

Most politicians admit there’s a spending problem, but they want to make an exception for their favorite program. When you add up 535 exceptions, and no one wants to cut his or her particular project, then you have a spending problem.