Blaming Elderly and Poor Americans

The Nov. 21-27, 2009,  issue of the Economist was devoted to the U.S. budget deficit–its causes and solutions.  I found it disconcerting that this conservative, business-oriented publication chose to focus on programs for the elderly as the main causal factor in our current 13 trillion dollar debt.  For instance, on page 13, an editorial writer had the following to say: 

“America’s deficit problem is in essence a spending problem, so spending must bear the brunt of adjustment.  An aging population and health care inflation are inexorably driving up the cost of the country’s three big entitlements: Social Security (pensions), Medicare, and Medicaid (health care for the elderly and the poor, respectively).”

This is reminds me of the blame for U.S. budget woes heaped on welfare recipients during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations.  And, indeed, a punitive so-called “welfare reform” act was passed during the Clinton Presidency.

Nothing was said in the Economist about spending on the military-industrial complex, the trillion or so that was gifted to Wall Street gamblers, tax cuts for the rich, handouts to the pharmaceutical industry, and on-going wars of choice–just to name a few other drains on the Federal budget.  In terms of adjustments, the Economist might have mentioned some of the current proposals to tax financial transactions, taxing hedge fund managers as employees rather than treating their income as capital gains, increasing the capital gains tax, and so on.  Why does the debt problem have to be solved, again, on the backs of the elderly and the poor?