While the problem comes down to dollars and cents, the unsustainable nature of federal entitlement programs is also a moral issue, according to House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga.
"Our goal is to end the immoral practice of forcing more Americans into dependency on broken governmental programs," Price said. "Critics try to claim the moral high ground. They say that they're the ones looking after our seniors and those less well off. Let me ask you, where's the morality in committing seniors and low-income families to a health care system that can't deliver health care...? Is it moral to promise retirement security that the government knows it cannot provide?"
Price recalled President Obama's re-election campaign method of putting a face on government beneficiaries through the "Life of Julia" website. While the campaign's version of Julia showed how much she was helped by government programs over her lifetime, Price painted a different picture. He mentioned how Julia had to pay for all of these government programs. Specifically, Julia would have spent a lifetime paying for Social Security and Medicare, but those systems would be bankrupt by the time she retired.
Conservatives often make the case for entitlement reform using data, talking about how soon entitlement trust funds will run out, how many people will see their benefits automatically cut and by how much. Price did some of that, but he also touched on the moral component of Americans' reliance on entitlements, a novel approach to a dilemma that many politicians simply avoid discussing.
Price pushed his case for entitlement reform Wednesday at the American Action Forum, as part of the release of a House Budget Committee white paper on entitlement reform called "Restoring the Trust for All Generations."
"Restoring the Trust" outlines the House Budget Committee's principles for entitlement reform, such as "provide flexibility," "encourage self-sufficiency" and "expand choices."