Among the many polarizing and wrong-headed assertions that Barack Obama made in his second Inaugural Address was one that stands outs vividly against the backdrop of the current tug-of-war over government spending:
The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
It’s an interesting theory, but it would be even more interesting to hear the president’s explanation of how entitlements strengthen us when they are bleeding the economy dry. In its 2012 annual report, the Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary warned that Medicare’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund will evaporate by 2016. Obama will still be in office when this happens. How will he explain the sudden lapse in benefits?
Presumably, he will resort to this standard MO and try to pin the blame on Republicans. He may have a difficult time since — as he himself has acknowledged — numbers don’t lie.
Nicholas Eberstadt, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” wrote in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. “arithmetically speaking, the recent American flight from work has largely been a flight to government disability programs.” He goes on to note that in December 2012, more than 8.8 million working-age men and women took disability payments from the government. That is triple the number that was on disability roles in December 1990. For every 17 people in the labor force, there is now one recipient of Social Security disability program payments.
Despite his campaign promise in 2008 to make “hard decisions” on entitlement programs, all that seems firm now is his resolve to do nothing.
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