The first, “debt and entitlements,” is pure D.C. propaganda.
To start with, most normal Americans don’t know “entitlements” means Social Security and Medicare. So when Wallace asks, as he surely will, whether we need to get the cost of “entitlements” under control, they won’t immediately realize he’s talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits.
More importantly, there’s no more reason to link the U.S. national debt with Social Security and Medicare than there is to link it with other things, such as our wars or deregulation of the financial industry.
The U.S. government spends about $2.2 trillion a year on Social Security and Medicare. That sounds like a lot until you realize that the Iraq War will eventually cost us about $6 trillion and the 2007 recession caused by Wall Street has cost us about $8 trillion in lost output — and counting.
Even more important, our spending on Social Security and Medicare gets us healthy, living citizens. For the Iraq War and the recession we’ve gotten much worse than nothing.