Acton Institute Powerblog

Senator Reid Punts on Necessary Reforms

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Yesterday Senator Harry Reid finally proposed a budget plan – one week before the United States is set to default. It is about time that Senate Democrats joined President Obama and House Republicans in offering a concrete budget proposal; however, their budget plan passes the buck onto future generations.

The government cannot continue to leave budget woes to future generations, and this is exactly what Senator Reid is trying to do. In fact, after viewing a video found on his website, he seems rather proud of the fact that his budget proposal doesn’t touch the three largest entitlements—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—which alone consist of 40 percent of federal spending in 2010 (entitlement spending makes up 57 percent of federal spending). Instead of making the tough call, proposing reforms and cuts to spare future generations from the large financial burden these programs bring, the Senate Democrats are deciding to continue with things as they are. Judging by the current financial state of the U.S. this is rather problematic.

The Senate Democrats’ budget proposal disregards the principles of stewardship. By not cutting or reforming entitlements they are not looking long term to ensure the creation of a strong and stable economy for our children and grandchildren.  Jordan Ballor in his commentary “Do Less with Less: What the History of Federal Debt and Tax Leverages Teaches” offers a pretty common sense solution for Senator Reid:

Raising taxes without such assurances, even for such a critical cause as the public debt crisis, is pure folly. To really address the structural deficits at the heart of the federal budget, particularly with respect to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (which together accounted for 40 percent of federal spending in 2010), the government simply needs to find ways to do less with less.

Entitlements have greatly contributed to our deficit problem, and a sound budget solution will recognize their contribution to the deficit and look to rectify the situation.

As Samuel Gregg articulates in “Deficit Denial, American-Style” the U.S. must pay off its debt if it hopes to economically grow and flourish:

After examining data on 44 countries over approximately 200 years, two economists recently found evidence suggesting that developed nations with gross public debt levels exceeding 90 percent of GDP (i.e., America) find that their medium-growth rates fall by one percent, while average growth declines by an even greater proportion.

The United States can begin down the path of prosperity by shrinking government and doing less with less and fostering an economic climate that is strong and vibrant for future generations.

Also see the Acton Institute’s  Principles for Budget Reform which can be viewed by clicking here.




Louie Glinzak


  • Ken

    “It is about time that Senate Democrats joined President Obama and House Republicans in offering a concrete budget proposal.” Hmmmmm.

    I haven’t seen anything yet from Obama that I would describe as concrete (the OMB told the President that they don’t score speeches) so if you’d be so kind as to post that spreadsheet from the Oval Office I’d be receptive to reading it.

    • Anonymous


      Here’s a link to the President Obama’s budget proposal ( It was released back in February. At the bottom of the page you’ll find a direct link to the summary tables. This may be more helpful in acquiring quick information. I hope this helps.

  • Yeah, I didn’t think you’d post that comment.

  • Anonymous



    I am unsure of what you are asking in your question
    wondering where I found my entitlement information. The entitlement information
    came from President Obama’s budget proposal which was released in February
    which did not only contain his budget proposal but also had all the spending history from 2010 and 2011. An ABC article (
    also cites that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have accounted for 57
    percent of government spending for this year.


    Social Security is expected to be dried out by 2037 and
    according to the CBO, its funds will operate in a deficit each year until it is
    drained. Furthermore, according to an annual report by Medicare trustees, it
    will be dried out by 2024 (this is a stark difference when from last years
    report which predicted the program to be solvent until 2029). No where do I advocate
    for completely gutting Medicare. I’m advocating for reform to make the three
    big entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) sustainable.


    The Social Security analyzes the ratio of those aged 65 and
    over to the population age 20 to 64 and this is constantly increasing.  For example, in 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population
    is expected to be 65 and older. Compare this to only 13 percent aged 65 and
    older in 2009. Also according to the Social Security website, the 75 year
    solvency that you cite (which is from the 2009 trustee report) can only be “met
    with benefit reductions equivalent in value to a 13 percent immediate
    reduction in all benefits, an increase in revenue equivalent to an immediate
    increase in the combined (employee and employer) payroll tax rate from
    12.4 percent to 14.4 percent, or a combination of these two
    approaches.” As we are seeing right now the economy is hard to predict and
    constantly fluctuates. It would be irresponsible to assume that we will enter
    such a large economic prosperity that would counter out the increase in the
    aging U.S.
    population in a way that would not require any sort of reform or changes to
    Social Security. To not fix these problems, which are on the horizon, is acting
    irresponsibly and disregarding our Christian obligation to be good stewards.


    I’m not sure where you got your statistic that the top 18
    percent hold 93 percent of the wealth. The closes source I could find was from
    Michael Moore’s movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” The following article
    actually debunks the math used for the memo Moore cites when he claims that “the riches 1
    percent owns more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.” (
    As you’ll also see in the article, the definition of financial wealth is also a
    problem in the memo, not just the math. You may also find the following press
    release interesting (
    which explains the share of total federal income taxes paid by different groups
    of tax payers. You’ll see that the top one percent of tax filers covered 39.38
    percent of federal income taxes while the top half paid 96.93 percent.


    You talk about health care reform. This is a long subject,
    and I don’t mean to shrug of the need to respond to your concerns. I ask that
    you visit the Acton Institute health care resource page (
    which was created during a few years ago when the health care debate grabbed
    national attention.


    The claim of the “Pentagon-Pig” being such a large cause to
    the deficit is also debunked by the Heritage Foundation which shows that the
    entire department of defense can be eliminated and we still won’t solve our
    deficit problems (
    There are no sacred cows in the budget negotiations and cuts can be identified
    in the defense budget, but it is important to note, cutting defense, even
    entirely, does not solve all of our problems.