Hoover Institution Press released Entitlement Spending: Our Coming Fiscal Tsunami, by David Koitz. Although the nation’s largest entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—are perceived as pillars of our governmental safety net, Koitz argues that those programs are actually the largest drivers of a severe and impending fiscal crisis. Koitz reminds readers that our national debt is at its highest level in sixty years and over the next decade alone, we could add nearly $13 trillion to it if we don’t change course. He explains we can no longer ignore the issue or set it aside. In the interest of our nation’s economic stability and well-being, he argues, policy makers must put forth a clear and comprehensive plan to trim the growth of those three programs.
The book offers two principal policy paths: one, that our increasing longevity during the past seventy-five years should be recognized by raising the age at which we become eligible for Medicare and Social Security benefits; two, that spiraling health care costs will only be tamed by more out-of-pocket spending by health care consumers. Medicare and Medicaid need to lead by example through measures that limit spending increases, impose higher deductibles and copays, and allow market forces to play a role by giving recipients the opportunity to use their Medicare dollars to buy their own health insurance.
The problem with our entitlement programs, Koitz contends, is not that they are failing us but rather that they are driving up our Treasury’s debt at a rate faster than we can possibly accommodate, particularly as more baby boomers reach retirement age. Thus, our economy’s ability to grow, our national security, and our standard of living are threatened. Although we have the world’s largest economy, we are accountable for one-fourth of the debt issued by all governments worldwide. It may seem inconceivable, Koitz argues, but someday the world may not want to lend us more money. If the economy slips because of the weight of our debt, the dollar’s dominance could too. He emphasizes that the United States desperately needs policy makers who are willing to address the risk of a full-blown debt calamity by reining in spending and modifying expectations of future Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security recipients. The problem, he argues, is too immense and too imminent to “kick the can down the road again. It’s our problem in our time and it would be unconscionable to pass it along to future generations.”
David Koitz is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and a consultant involved with a variety of public policy matters. Serving as an analyst on Capitol Hill for more than twenty-five years, Koitz has worked for numerous members of Congress and various congressional committees. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, he is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and the American University.
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