For all the tough talk about budget cuts, when push comes to shove, Americans aren't willing to make the sacrifices to get there. The New York special election for the House seat of the 26th district proved this much.
The special election was won by Democrat Kathy Hochul in an overwhelmingly Republican district because of one thing: her defense of Medicare in its current form and her Republican opponent Jane Corwin's support for Paul Ryan's plan to cut funding and change it to a voucher program.
The Republican voters in the 26th district made it clear: they want to keep the blanket government guarantee Medicare program that's taking America straight to bankruptcy.
Medicare consumed 3.6 percent of the GDP ($528 billion) in 2010. It's projected by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees to increase to 5.5 percent of GDP by 2035 and 6.2 percent of GDP by 2085.
In 2010, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 23 percent of the total government spending.
Medicare and other entitlement programs are simply out of control. One key reason is the efficiencies, waste, and distorted incentives of the blanket guarantee system.
It's just unsustainable. If continued, two things could happen. The US could slowly decline under the weight of its overwhelming debt burden. Or, a Treasury crisis could impose austerity measures on the US government.
Americans need to understand that they actually don't have a God-given entitlement to all the government entitlement programs that their government can't afford in the first place. Ideally, they would make reasonable concessions. At the very least, they should take a proposal (like Ryan's) that promises to cut inefficiencies more seriously.
The 55-years-old and above voting bloc, staunchly against reforming Medicare, is a major reason reform doesn't happen. Ironically, Ryan's plan wouldn't even affect those who are currently over 55 years old.