Chart of the Week: The Impact of an Aging America
T. Elliot Gaiser /
Sequestration has taken effect, and yet government spending continues growing. Sequestration’s 2.4 percent reductions are not enough to fix Washington’s spending and debt problem because they do nothing to reform entitlement programs, whose costs will grow rapidly with America’s aging population.
As more Americans age and retire, more Americans will begin collecting benefits from Social Security and Medicare, regardless of need. This is the main reason mandatory spending will surge far beyond the 62 percent of the budget it currently consumes. By the time those over 65 reach 20 percent of the population in 2050, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare will gobble up every dollar of America’s historical tax revenue.
This will leave all other federal programs penniless unless they are financed by amassing even more federal debt. And as Heritage expert Romina Boccia has written, debt harms economic growth and reduces opportunity.
When lawmakers allowed sequestration to take effect Friday, they made it possible to trim fat in places like the TSA, EPA, and Department of Education. But sequestration barely even slows the growth in spending. Now more Americans, from millennials to small business owners, are calling on their leaders to take significant steps to fix the debt and put America on a path to balance inn 10 years. Congress should heed their call.
Elliot Gaiser is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.