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Ben Sasse: We're not telling you the truth about entitlements

Conservative Review

Entitlement reform is necessary to protect our kids, Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb. said on a Philadelphia radio program Tuesday.

Speaking on “The Rich Zeoli Show” about President Trump’s budget proposal, Sen. Sasse noted that the executive budget is often more of a statement of principle than a hard policy prescription.

“The fact of the matter is, Presidential first opening bids in a budget process are usually just a messaging document and they’re never really very real. So, not beating up the current President about today’s budget, but broadly, we’re just not telling the American people the truth about entitlement spending,” Sasse said.

“Seventy-one percent of the federal budget is five entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Social Security and interest on the debt. Seventy-one percent of federal spending! And the remaining 29 is about half and half. Fourteen to fourteen, defense verse non-defense entitlements.”

“If you go back to the Kennedy administration, a little more than 50 years, at that point, 52 percent of federal spending was defense and one percent was entitlements. Now, we’re at 70 percent entitlements, 14 percent defense,” the senator explained.

“We are never going to protect our kids from generational bankruptcy if we don’t tackle entitlements and right now there’s just little political will to do that in Washington. That’s the budgetary item that I’m most anxious about.”

The senator is right, of course. President Trump’s budget took an important first step toward entitlement reform by scaling back the growth of entitlement spending for the next ten years. But if Sasse is right, and the budget is “just a messaging document,” the responsibility of fighting for real entitlement reform and fiscal sanity falls on our representatives in Congress.

Already, some of Sasse’s Senate colleagues are backing off Trump’s proposals.

“We know that the president’s budget won’t pass as proposed,” Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also told reporters that Republicans will need to negotiate with Democrats to send a budget to the president’s desk.

“They will not be irrelevant in the process, and at some point, here in the near future, those discussions will begin,” he said.

If conservatives in Congress are serious about supporting the president’s budget, they will need to fight tooth and nail to for every spending reduction in the face of widespread media backlash.

Voters will soon see which representatives are willing to fight the good fight for future generations and which ones talk a big game but show up to play without a ball.

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