Tag: Entitlements

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One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence. – Thomas Sowell As usual Dr. Thomas Sowell offers us excellent Sowell food for thought. What makes this quote […]

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In recent months, I’ve taken a keen interest in the comments section of The American Conservative, an idiosyncratic publication which, despite its name, seems to be read mostly by Michael Moore aficionados. Scroll down on any TAC article, and you’ll find an army of self-described left-wing commenters, all of whom claim to dislike wokeness . . . and […]

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Autumn Colors: The Color of Law, an in-depth review


When people are free to associate as they please, we can’t be surprised if they sometimes self-segregate. People self-sort along many affinities, including ethnic affinities. This is what lawyers call de facto segregation, and it’s none of the law’s business. De jure segregation — segregation imposed by law, including segregation promoted by public policy — is, on the other hand, very much the law’s business.

In 1866, Congress passed a Civil Rights Act (the 1866 CRA) asserting the equal rights of blacks before the law, including property rights, and real-estate rights in particular. The 1866 CRA warned

Richard Epstein explains how public pensions came to be a ticking time bomb for states and cities throughout the U.S., what the financial ramifications are, and why the road to reform is so perilous.

Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the family leave plan pushed by Sen. Marco Rubio and Ivanka Trump to allow parents to tap their future Social Security checks to cover the weeks surrounding the birth of a new baby in exchange for waiting extra weeks when they reach retirement.  In addition, Alexandra rebuts the liberal insistence that family leave must be a whole new entitlement.  They also slam Republicans for effectively surrendering the option to use budget reconciliation for the next two years as part of the horrific budget deal with Democrats.  And they fire back at Republican lawmakers who spent Thursday trashing Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster as a waste of time, when those GOP members are really just mad that Sen. Paul called them out for their blatant hypocrisy on deficit spending and not wanting to take a vote on restoring budget caps.

This week on Banter we’re joined by AEI Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies Robert Doar. Robert contributed to a new publication titled “This Way Up: New Thinking About Poverty and Economic Mobility.” The  booklet of short essays, published by Opportunity America in conjunction with AEI, showcases some of the best new thinking on issues such as welfare reform, wage subsidies, workforce training, school choice, and family formation. Contributors include Speaker Paul Ryan, AEI President Arthur Brooks, Charles Murray, Robert Doar, Tamar Jacoby, and a number of other prominent researchers on the right. More information on the report can be found at the links below. If you’d like a complimentary copy of the report please send your name and email to banter@aei.org.

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It’s a tradition dating back to the Founding Fathers: the American government financing safeguards, be it retirement (Social Security), health benefits (Medicare), or rewards for military service in the form of federal entitlements. In an age of debt and deficits, when will lawmakers address entitlement reform? John Cogan, Hoover’s Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow and author of a new book on the long history of federal entitlements, assesses where the Trump administration goes from here.

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Since President Trump was inaugurated, the mounting debt (not as sexy a term as one would think) had been approaching the artificial debt limit imposed by Congress of $19.8 T (as in Terrible, Treacherous, Tragic, etc.) After months of the Treasury robbing Peter to pay Paul to prevent breaching the limit, last week Congress approved […]

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John Stossel: Kids Aren’t Learning, So I’ll Teach Them


John StosselJohn Stossel joins the Whiskey Politics Podcast just as we were setting up at Freedom Fest (apologies for the few audio glitches). John spoke on regulations, entitlements, the ongoing drug war, the impact of legalization, why he despises Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and how to ensure future generations will be taught about the benefits of free markets. John can now be found on Reason TV and is focusing on teaching students basic economic principals at Stossel In The Classroom where students can get free DVDs.

In this AEI Events Podcast, AEI’s Joseph Antos hosts health policy experts to discuss Medicare’s fiscal health following the release of the 2017 Medicare Trustees report. Paul Spitalnic, chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, delivers the keynote address, in which he summarizes the report and discusses its implications on the future of Medicare.

In the following panel discussion, topics include the value of lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes at different ages, the competition in the Medicare system and the possibility of a more private system than we have seen in the past, and the role of the Congressional Budget Office in the Medicare reform challenge. Panelists are comprised of Keith Fontenot (Hooper, Lundy & Bookman, PC), Maya MacGuineas (Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget), Robert Moffit (Heritage Foundation), and Eugene Steurle (Urban Institute). The conversation is moderated by AEI’s Joseph Antos.

This AEI Events Podcast discusses Social Security – the largest federal program, the largest tax most workers pay, and the largest source of income for most retirees. AEI’s Andrew G. Biggs hosts Social Security’s chief actuary, Stephen C. Goss, to discuss the recently released 2017 Social Security’s Trustees Report. He addresses the program’s sustainability and implications of the proposed reforms.

Andrew G. Biggs and Paul N. Van de Water (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) provide comments on the report, moderated by Alex J. Pollock (R Street Institute). Dr. Van de Water examines the relationship between Disability Insurance and Old-Age and Survivors Trust Funds. He argues that they have complementary distributional effects and should be addressed together. Dr. Biggs addresses what is driving the drop in disability insurance and the variety of reasons why different people need disability insurance.

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  Well, here we are. It’s been obvious for a couple of months now that that there just aren’t enough votes in either body of the Republican controlled Congress for a full repeal of Obamacare. What we’re left with now are two bills (one which has passed the House, and one currently under consideration in […]

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Richard Epstein examines the principles that should guide efforts to reform America’s tax system.

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Today FoxNews reported that Clinton is slightly ahead of Trump in the battleground/swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania, and Trump is ahead in Ohio. One third of Dems voting today say they will vote for Trump if he is the nominee vs Hillary. Only one fifth of Republicans voting today would do the obverse and […]

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Entitlement Reform and the GOP: Goodbye to All That?


shutterstock_215312209_SocialSecurityNot much talk about the national debt during this GOP primary season. Oh, there’s the obligatory — passing — reference to it during speeches and debates, but little more. Indeed, GOP tax plans would make the debt much worse by trillions over the next decade and beyond.

Now maybe one reason there’s less debt talk is that budget deficits are way down, and the long-term fiscal outlook improved. On the latter front, the WSJ’s Grep Ip highlights a new study — co-authored by former CBO boss Doug Elmendorf — that forecasts the US debt-GDP ratio won’t hit 100 percent until 2032 vs. the CBO’s 2009 forecast of 2023. (Thank low interest rates and slower healthcare inflation for that.)

But maybe another reason Republicans aren’t talking about the debt is that it’s hard to do so without also talking about deep Medicare and Social Security reform. And while entitlement reform was a pretty hot topic early in the Obama presidency, passion on the right has waned. Reforming entitlements is out, defending them is in. As Donald Trump has put it: “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want [it] to be cut.” Here’s WSJ columnist Holman Jenkins:

Want to Prevent a Debt Crisis? Here’s What Real-World, Center-Right Reform Looks Like.


011416debt_2Democrats have big spending plans. Republicans have big tax cut plans. Debt and deficits? No one much talks about those things any more, apparently. But they should. Sure, as Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Timiraos notes, the “U.S. budget deficit ended last year at its lowest level since 2007, marking the sixth straight annual drop.” The federal budget gap deficit ended 2015 at $478 billion, or around 2.6% of GDP. Timiraos explains why we no longer have the trillion dollar deficits of the Great Recession years:

After the financial crisis, the U.S. government in 2009 ran deficits not seen since World War II as revenues fell sharply and stimulus flowed. Deficits began to recede in 2010 as the stimulus faded and revenues stabilized. Congress cut spending further after Republicans took control of the House in 2011. Government spending started to rise two years ago, but deficits continued falling because of strong receipts to the Treasury, in part from tax increases that took effect in 2013.  Outlays last year rose 5%, roughly the same pace as the year before. Revenues were up 6%, versus a 10% gain in 2014.

The US has still added nearly $8 trillion in debt since 2007, more than doubling the debt-GDP ratio to around 73%. And the current deficit numbers may mark the bottom:

Structural Reform and 2016


fortuneI have a prediction: Whoever wins the 2016 presidential election will serve only a single term in office. There are simply too many structural reforms that have to happen over the next four years for it to be otherwise. Here is a brief list:

  1. Healthcare, costs too much.
  2. Entitlements, too generous.
  3. Labor markets, too rigid (in oh so many ways).
  4. Immigration, needs controlling.
  5. Education, too expensive and corrupt.

Then there are the nasty ethnic crises waiting to pounce on America once it becomes clear that the government cannot keep its entitlement promises without transferring large amounts of wealth from younger, less-white workers to older, lilly-white retirees.

That said, I think a Republican president could do a lot of good. As the party of smug, upper-middle-class narcissists, the Democrats have a built-in incentive to inflame ethnic conflict. The GOP, on the other hand, has a big incentive to minimize it. That could make all the difference in whether we wake up to an EU-style American Union in 2020, or if we continue as the United States of America.

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I’m accustomed to being isolated politically. When I lived in San Francisco, for example, I was not only president of the Bay Area Republicans Club but I was also the member. Other places I’ve lived – Wheaton, Illinois, Boulder and Denver, Colorado, Herne, Germany and Long Beach, California have only reinforced to me the truth […]

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SS and Medicare: The Truth Stinks


When the subject of debt and deficits comes up in polite conversation — with its progenitor, entitlements —  and I respond, I often feel like the dog who passed gas under the Thanksgiving dinner table. Sometimes, weakness shows and the “we all paid in” defense is presented with resounding harrumphs exchanged in agreement. If it gets this far, there is the assurance that the trust fund, while depleted, remains to cover our obligations. When I proceed to point out that this piggybank is filled with IOUs, not cash (and even if it were filled with appreciating assets, it contains far less than what will be needed to cover the actuarial obligation) I am summarily labeled as an un-American, naysaying, and unbelieving apostate. Who am I to denigrate the “full faith and promise of the USA?” To preserve the peace, I relent and agree to be muzzled.

The underlying and accepted conceit here is quite simple: wealth must find its origin in the bowels of Washington, DC. The corollary conceit is that the free marketplace perverts wealth and provides the means for its corruption. Thus, Washington not only creates wealth out of sheer political will, but it must counter the corrupting influence of the free market.

The GOP Needs a New Vision of Social Security Reform — and It’s Not Privatization


shutterstock_181599206Recently I wrote about some conservatives who think Republicans should talk less about entitlement reform. Too gloomy. Too much “root canal” politics. But at least when it comes to Social Security reform, there is a path other than cut, cut, cut. It would make the program fiscally sustainable, create a reliable anti-poverty safety net in retirement, and encourage more Americans to save for retirement. AEI’s Andrew Biggs in National Review:

Beginning immediately, Social Security would pay every long-term U.S. resident a minimum benefit pegged at the poverty threshold of $950 a month, regardless of the retiree’s work history or earnings. This minimum benefit would take the place of both the redistributive aspects of Social Security and the Supplemental Security Income program, but do so with greater protections against poverty and no prohibition on work and saving. In fact, the Social Security payroll tax would be eliminated at age 62 to encourage longer work lives. But over several decades, the maximum Social Security benefit would be scaled down so that eventually every retiree will receive the same flat dollar benefit from the government.

For the bottom third of retirees, benefits would increase, but for middle and upper income Americans, benefits would decline relative to currently promised levels. This makes sense. At any given time, higher-income Americans are less dependent upon government than lower-income households. As incomes rise over time, Americans should gradually become less dependent on the government for income in retirement and more able to build their own savings.