The American Spectator's "Another Perspective" just ran an excellent piece titled, "What Would Reagan Cut?" The author is Bob Patterson, a close friend who served as the stated clerk of Northern Illinois Presbytery (PCA) back in 1991 when I transferred with my congregation from the mainline PC(USA) into the PCA. Since then, Bob has moved into writing on public policy matters and currently serves as editor of the Rockford Center's very helpful quarterly, The Family in America.
Two reasons to read this piece: first, everyone thinks cutting Social Security benefits is the only realistic way to address the deficit, but did you know that the payments you and I make into Social Security have long served as one of Washington D.C.'s principal cash cows? Bob reports that Social Security has long been producing a surplus..."In fiscal year 2009, when the federal deficit reached $1.4 trillion, these self-financing programs (Social Security and Medicare) generated a $121 billion surplus, according to the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees. In 2010, the surplus was $32 billion." Patterson adds that, since 1990, Social Security and Medicare have produced a twenty-five percent surplus!
Second, anti-poverty programs are largely entitlement programs for poverty bureaucrats rather than the poor, themselves. Further, if a man wants to have Social Security payments when he retires, he has to have worked for years paying into the program. No such work is required for payments from the anti-poverty programs. They are free money with no work or investment needed and the consequence of these programs is that our nation systematically severs the connection between fathers and their families; but worse, they guarantee that the man who doesn't work will eat.
Patterson writes: "...liberal welfare schemes -- by displacing marriage and fathers from low-income families, a staggering loss for society and the economy -- have left the underclass far less capable of self-reliance. Ironically, the main beneficiaries of the War on Poverty have not been the poor but, as Charles Murray has noted, 'the poverty industry -- bureaucrats, caseworkers, service providers, and a grab-bag of vendors in the private sector who plan, implement, and evaluate social programs on government contracts.'"