Our Opinion: Bitter frame of mind
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said this week he is leaving Congress because he doesn’t want his children to reach adulthood having experienced only a “weekend dad.” After 20 years in Congress, Ryan’s decision is understandable in that light.
But one wonders if Ryan, R-Wisc., may have been motivated by something else — frustration at not achieving one of the key goals that prompted him to go to Washington in the first place.
Ryan understands what so many Americans do not seem to comprehend, that entitlement spending is eating us and our posterity alive. Ryan had vowed to do something about it. Yet, even with the power of the House speakership, he was unable to do so.
The National Debt stands at $21.2 trillion. That is $64,600 for every man, woman and child in the United States. Maintaining that debt on borrowed money costs nearly $300 billion a year, and growing.
Entitlements eat up most of the federal budget. Medicare and Medicaid cost nearly $1.1 trillion a year, not counting what states pay for the latter program. Social Security takes nearly $1 trillion — and no, it is far from covered by contributions from working people. Other “income security” programs cost nearly $300 billion. Federal pensions add another $263 billion.
And we continue adding to the list of entitlements.
They are called that because, soon after they are established, most recipients begin to consider them as only slightly short of rights.
Something needs to be done about entitlements — as well as wasteful federal spending.
In less than a year, Ryan will move on with his life. His return to Wisconsin will be made in a somewhat bitter frame of mind, we suspect. But he is right — though that knowledge cannot be much satisfaction to him.