Quarter 2 Essay
November 10, 2014
Presidential Power, Managing the Federal Budget, and the Bureaucracy
The reasons behind continuous federal budget deficits are entitlement plans, healthcare, and our foreign policy. In my opinion, the spending can by cut by reducing entitlement programs, including welfare and social security, terminating useless government programs, and reforming our national defense spending. The government needs to reduce spending on entitlement, healthcare, and welfare programs by reforming qualifications for receiving aid. In 2014, the U.S. spent $1.1 trillion on pensions, $1.2 trillion in health care, and $493.6 billion on welfare. Federal pension was 0.08% of the GDP in 1940 but is expected to reach 5.3% by 2015. About 85% of current civilian employees are accruing benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement Systems or the Civil Service Retirement System. To reform the systems, one option would be to use a five-year average for civilian retirees and a 60-month average for military retirees, instead of the three year and 36 month averages, reducing annuities by about 3% and saving the federal government $6 billion in the next 10 years (cbo.gov). Those in opposition to this change would argue that this option discourages people from entering the federal service and might cause some employees to retire earlier. With the increasing medical technologies and average life span, increasing the time to qualify for pensions is not unreasonable. Reforming Social Security is the most complex problem for our government. While logically, making the program need-based would cut the most costs, morally, this is unfair to all the workers who have been paying into the program their whole lives, but the government is spending money on retirees that can live comfortably without the money. If the government slightly decreases the amount of Social Security received based on wealth over time, the budget would be closer to being balanced. This idea is not the fairest, but according to Dave Ramsey, “The fact is that government can get out of debt the same way you get out of debt. You quit borrowing money. You quit spending. You balance the budget. But to do all of that, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. (cbo). Also, as the cost of Social Security declines, the Social Security tax will also be able to shrink. Secondly, in accordance to the growth of life expectancy, the government should raise the eligibility age for Social Security. Those already getting Social Security will still receive their share, but future citizens will have to wait until the increased age.
Eligibility for a welfare program is determined using gross and net income, the size of a family, and crisis situations. Examples of welfare programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the child support program, child care, energy or utility assistance, food assistance, medical assistance, and vocational rehabilitation services. These programs should not be terminated, but they should be changed. Our government does not have the means to support every citizen without work while we are in national debt. Capping the amount of money that can go into these programs will reduce the number of people depending on the government. These programs should be considered for those who need the help the most and will be able to wean off the program with the extra money and assistance. Reforming pensions and welfare is only the first step to balancing the government budget and getting the US out of debt.
The government spends 27% of the budget on healthcare (usgovernmentspending). Mandatory health care programs include Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, and the TRICARE for Life program. By imposing caps on these programs, the government is forced to only help those who need help the most. Health insurance should be privatized. The