In a twist of fate, Obama and the Democratic Party have assumed the role as the ‘Party of No’. They continue to lob criticisms at Paul Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ while presenting no specific alternatives of their own. It may seem odd that the party in power would hope to completely ignore our national debt, especially given the enormity of the problem. But despite the public’s recognition of our debt as a top concern, the cause of the crisis makes it toxic for politicians.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently released a report showing that Medicare’s trust fund will run dry in 2024 and Social Security’s will be drained by 2036. Predictions by all accounts show Medicare swallowing up the federal budget in the near future and understandably so. Longer life expectancy has added an extra 8-10 years for younger generations to fund. Add in the skyrocketing costs of healthcare, the overall aging of the population and government’s historical record of ineptness, and you’re left with a pending disaster.
Despite their path toward insolvency, a recent poll shows that a majority of Americans think that Medicare changes are unnecessary. Therein lays the problem. The debt needs to be addressed, but to do so means changing entitlements as we know them. Politics is easy when you’re telling people you’re going to give them what they want. But how do you tell them what they need?
The current answer to that is easy for the Democrats… you don’t. If they acknowledge the need to cut entitlements with a definitive plan, they in turn legitimize what many Republicans have been griping about. If they stick to vague generalizations though, Republicans are left as the malevolent, heartless leaders who don’t care about their elders. That’s why it would be a surprise if even the bi-partisan ‘Gang of Six’ were allowed to present a proposal. Democrats across the board know what happened in the 2010 elections. In order to sway public opinion they need the discussion to be about the tragedies that will occur without government. Not about the ones that will occur with it.
But where does that leave the American public? We’re stuck hostage to a political power game where the top interest is a power grab through re-election. And there’s no end in sight. Not when it’s working so well. Look no further than the potential surprise win of Kathy Hochul in NY’s special election. With this kind of success you can rest assured there will be more scare tactics, including campaign ads that are already going as far as showing a Paul Ryan look alike shoving a woman in a wheel chair off a cliff.
How does it end though? Well there’s no easy fix. We have allowed ourselves to become all too dependent on the federal government. Decisions in Washington impact each of our lives to an extent never before imagined in America. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the average person’s knowledge on these personal topics doesn’t extend beyond a politician’s 5 second sound bite.
This gap in public understanding results in a lack of accountability that is all the more exacerbated by the fact that Washington doesn’t just have a monetary deficit, but a leadership deficit as well. No one is willing or able to step forward with what is truly best for the American public.
But even if they did, is America ready to listen? The Democrats current strategy isn’t an anomaly. They are just the current party correctly predicting the answer to that question being no.