Why We Can’t Wait on Entitlement Reform

Sep 23, 2013

The unsustainability of our entitlement programs is the “most predictable economic crisis in our nation's history,” according to Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs. In an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel [subscription required], he explains:

As far back as 1995, the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform reported: "If we do not plan for the future, entitlement spending promises will exceed federal resources in the next century."

In 1999, the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare concluded that Medicare was unsustainable in its present form. The 2010 Bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility issued a warning that as a nation we have reached a moment of truth for budget reform.

While these and other warnings were issued, the real drivers of our growing debt are ignored by policymakers who would rather argue over the sequester, the debt ceiling and the next government funding bill.

Millennials, who are entering the workforce, will bear much of the burden for this inaction:

The millennial generation — ages 18 to 32 — will suffer the most if we fail to modernize our entitlement programs and curb our debt. They will bear the brunt of new economy-crushing taxes or painful benefit cuts — or both. In addition, high unemployment and reduced earnings due to the Great Recession have left the millennials less financially equipped to deal with problems resulting from our nation's long-term debt.

Josten puts the need for entitlement reform in the context of Washington’s current fiscal debate:

If Washington has to fight, debate, bluster and bluff over budgets, deficits and debt, then it should at least do it over the one issue that really counts — the massive growth in entitlement spending that threatens to bankrupt our country. Instead, it's the issue almost everyone is trying to ignore.

The U.S. Chamber Foundation will host an event on entitlement reform tomorrow, September 24, featuring Josten along with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Purdue University President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the #entitlements13 hashtag.


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