On Saturday, November 7th, House Democrats squeaked out a mammoth 1,990 page health care bill with a slim 220-215 majority vote. Pelosi's House bill will go to the Senate for further debate, changes, and a final merging. Concerning the bill's successful passage, Nancy Pelosi said,
"We come before you to follow in the footsteps of those who gave our country Social Security and then Medicare."
Ironically, Social Security and Medicare are two government programs virtually bankrupt, insolvent, and fraught with internal waste.
Take Social Security; the Social Security Act was passed in 1935 and was meant to provide a safety net for the elderly and disabled. Funded by our payroll taxes, Social Security has become the largest government program in the world and the single greatest expenditure in our federal budget. Right now, more money goes into our Social Security than defending our nation.
In May of this year, the Trustees of Social Security released a report stating that by 2016 Social Security will lose more money than their tax revenues generate. And by 2037, Social Security Trust Funds will be exhausted. The 2037 date is 4 years earlier than the projected date of their last report, which is not a good thing. This means one of two things will happen. They will either cut benefits for the elderly and disabled, or they will increase payroll taxes by at least 2%, thus increasing the ever-growing Social Security System.
Medicare, on the other hand, is near fiscal collapse. The 2009 Medicare Trustees Report stated that Medicare's Trust Fund, which pays for hospital care, will be exhausted in just 8 years. The report warned that the only way to fix the problem is to control entitlement spending.
Medicare not only spends $12.3 billion per year on fraud and administrative errors, they overpay for prescription drugs and medical equipment. Some of their purchases were 8 times what the VA pays for the same products. These are fixable problems that the government has been incompetent to fix. Ultimately, we taxpayers pay $20 to $30 billion a year in unnecessary fraud and waste spending in the Medicare program.
Historically, governments just aren't good at fiscal accountability. For instance, in 2003, government auditors lost 25 billion dollars. In other words, they know it was spent, but don't know by whom or for what. We also know that our government spent $100 million on fully refundable airline tickets, but neglected to collect their refund.
Part of the problem is that the American people are letting the fringe left decide the state of our fiscal health. Case in point, the two most liberal states in our union are California and New York. They spend the most on entitlement programs, and they themselves are virtually bankrupt.
California, for instance, spends more money on health, welfare, hospitals, parks, and on natural resources than any other state near the west coast. According to Governor Schwarzenegger, every second that passes, California spends 470 dollars more than it makes, which adds up to $40 million per day.
New York, on the other hand, has the 4th highest spending per capita in the nation. They spend more on welfare than any other state in the county while placing fifth in health care spending per capita. New York also has the fifth highest debt in the nation.
Here is another interesting thought to consider. Five states with the worst budget deficits in the nation are California, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, and New York respectively. Ironically, the five most powerful politicians in currently in Washington are President Barack Obama (Illinois), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (California), Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), and the President and Vice President of the Joint Economic Committee Carolyn Maloney and Chuck Schumer (New York).
This means that the politicians we have entrusted to run the fiscal operations of our nation represent states that have the worst fiscal problems. This is not to say that these politicians are directly responsible for the financial complications of their states, but it shows that they are the products of the same misguided entitlement ideology. Perhaps it's time for Americans to vote for a different sort of hope and change.