The primary economic challenge today is that our government spends too much money it doesn't have, and it is involved in too many things it cannot do well and shouldn't do at all. This burden is manifested by a $1.3 trillion annual def icit and a $14 trillion national debt. The more pernicious effects of this fiscal drag are unseen: a debased dollar, massive (and hidden) unfunded liabilities, and a crushing burden on would-be job creators.
Milton Friedman correctly argued in 1999 that the "real cost of government—the total tax burden—equals what government spends plus the cost to the public of complying with government mandates and regulations and of calculating, paying, and taking measures to avoid taxes." He added, "Anything that reduces that real cost—lower government spending, elimination of costly regulations on individuals or businesses, simplification of explicit taxes—is a tax reform."
Repealing ObamaCare is another obvious source of reduced spending. The absurd claim that this government takeover of health care produces budget savings is based on budget gimmickry—such as assumed Medicare cuts that, according to estimates by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would put 15% of our hospitals out of business, and thus will never happen. The claim also ignores the historically explosive growth in other similar programs. Medicare grew nine-fold larger than was projected during its first 25 years. In its first 10 years alone, the program experienced a 700% cost overrun.
Entitlements—56% of the annual budget and growing—are the most difficult but also the most important programs to reform, because the total unfunded liability tops $100 trillion for Social Security and Medicare alone. The federal government does not put these liab ilities on the books, but serious budgeting requires that we deal with this ominous long-term burden now.
None of this will be easy. Many will likely demagogue any reduction in the rate of growth of spending as a devastating "cut." But the politics of spending has changed, and there is an expectation among fiscally conservative voters—Republicans, independents, tea partiers and even Democrats—that the government tighten its belt, just as American families have been forced to do.