Trump: Open to Entitlement Cuts Towards End of Year

(17:54 min)

JOE KERNEN: Entitlements ever be on your plate?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I– it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look, cause it’s such a–

JOE KERNEN: If you’re willing–

PRESIDENT TRUMP: –big percentage.

JOE KERNEN: —to do some of the things that you said you wouldn’t do in the past, though, in terms of Medicare–

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re going– we’re going look. We also have– assets that we’ve never had. I mean we’ve never had growth like this. We never had a consumer that was taking in, through– different means, over $10,000 a family. We never had the kind of– the kind of things that we have. Look, our country is the hottest in the world. We have the hottest economy in the world. We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had. African American, Asian American. Hispanics are doing so incredibly. Best they’ve ever done. Black. Best they’ve ever done. African American. The numbers are incredible. The poverty numbers. The unemployment and the employment. There’s– there is a difference, actually. But the unemployment and employment numbers for African Americans are the best we’ve ever had. You know, we just– came up with a chart, and it was a very important to number to me. African American youth has the highest, by far, unemployment. The best unemployment numbers that they’ve ever had. And the best employment numbers. Right now we have almost 160 million people working in the United States, and we’ve never even been close to that, Joe.

Bernie and Elizabeth Wage War on the Young

In exchange for ‘free’ college, millennials will pick up middle-class boomers’ extravagant tab.

Millennials are too young to remember Monty Hall’s original “Let’s Make a Deal” game show, unless they’ve seen reruns on cable. So it might not be immediately clear to these voters that baby boomers are asking them to play a version of that game right now. Or that this political version is rigged.

Behind door number 1: the “car” of $1.6 trillion in student-loan relief, plus free college for all. Behind door number 2: the “goat” of uncountable tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities to benefit boomers.

This is the best way to understand the flamboyant debt-forgiveness proposals lately put forward by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. These programs are presented—not least by the sponsors themselves—as a form of old-style, rich-versus-poor class warfare. Mr. Sanders says he can fund $2.2 trillion of debt forgiveness and free public-university degrees with a financial-transactions tax on “Wall Street speculators.” Ms. Warren says her relatively modest $1.25 trillion debt-and-tuition deal can be financed by a wealth tax.

Stipulate that what we’re talking about here, on student loans or any other issue in the resentment sweepstakes of the Democratic presidential primary, doesn’t really help the poor. The audience for the class-war rhetoric from Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren is the middle class, which is the intended recipient of most of the redistribution they promise. Even with the income limits on eligibility Ms. Warren builds into her plan, 58% of the debt relief would flow to households with incomes between $42,000 and $111,000. Mr. Sanders imposes no limits at all—his proposal is a subsidy for doctors and lawyers more than anyone else.

No surprise here. Redistribution to the middle class is a conspicuous feature of the European social-welfare states American leftists admire. This is why it doesn’t matter that the student-debt fiasco is mainly a middle-income crisis. That’s a trenchant but not entirely relevant observation raised by some conservative critics befuddled that Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren are investing so much political capital in a giveaway for the better-off. The middle-class nature of the new entitlement is the whole point. That’s where the votes are, and also where any sense of economic hardship lingers in developed economies that already have solved the worst problems of extreme poverty.

What these politicians aren’t telling millennials, though, is that the middle class always pays for its own benefits in some way. Financial-transaction taxes chronically underperform estimates of the revenue they’ll generate, and wealth taxes are so ineffective that even France scrapped its version in despair in 2017.

Much heavier middle-class taxation is what feeds European social-welfare states. The taxman takes well north of 30% of the total labor income of the average single-earner household in France, Germany, Sweden and Norway, compared with 19% in the U.S., according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

And if you think middle-class boomers are lining up to pay their “fair share” toward student debt relief once all the wealth-taxation gimmicks have failed, think again.

The federal government is running a deficit today, and politicians of both parties show little willingness to balance the budget in the immediate future. Absent entitlement reform, the task will become impossible in the 2030s once the youngest boomers have retired and started drawing the Social Security and Medicare benefits they never bothered to fund. After wealth taxes fail to generate the expected revenue, the Bernies and Warrens will turn to borrowing to finance student-loan relief—those new government debts to be repaid, naturally, by the millennial taxpayers of the future.

What’s the point, then? A cynic would suggest the student-loan gimmick is primarily an inducement for younger voters who’ll unwittingly assent to assume the fiscal burdens of old-age entitlements.

Those programs might be at least partially reformed, and their fiscal drag on the young ameliorated, by rebalancing their benefits away from middle-class boomers, perhaps via means-testing. But boomers have always staunchly resisted such reforms, and no politicians have been as fearsome tribunes of that refusal as progressives of the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren variety.

So faux debt relief is likely on offer in order to induce millennials to elect either of two progressive presidential candidates who will absolutely never, under any circumstances, ease the fiscal burdens of the much larger old-age entitlements distributed to the elderly tranche of the middle class.

Think a student-debt write-down and free college is a great deal? Wait until you see what you’ll have to pay in return.

America’s Entitlement Crisis Just Keeps Growing

this year, benefits exceeded both taxes and interest, meaning that Social Security had to dip into the principal of the Social Security Trust Fund for the first time.

.. The Social Security Trust Fund is not — and never has been — an asset that can be used to pay benefits. Instead, it is an accounting measure of how much money Social Security can draw from general revenues.

.. Social Security’s total unfunded liabilities now exceed $37 trillion, on a discounted-present-value basis over the infinite horizon.

.. Congress also repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an Obamacare provision that would have limited provider reimbursements.
..  In actuality, Medicare has been running a cash-flow deficit for decades.
.. there can be no long-term reduction in the national debt without addressing these massive entitlement programs. Social Security now costs nearly $1 trillion per year, and Medicare more than $700 billion.
.. Those two programs alone account for some 40 percent of all federal spending.

Entitlements Will Eat America’s Economy

As we did in the 1990s, lawmakers should put aside partisanship and get to work on reform.

It took almost 200 years for the federal government to accumulate its first $1 trillion in debt. The next $20 trillion took less than four decades.

Tackling the growing costs of entitlements doesn’t mean Americans must turn their backs on those who have fallen on hard times and need help. As governor of Ohio, I oversaw an effort that reformed our Medicaid program dramatically. Without denying coverage to those who relied on it, we cut annual growth from a 9% yearly average in 2009-11 to an average of less than 2% since 2016. Success is possible.

.. Remember the example of 1997, when a bipartisan coalition in Congress worked with a Democratic president to reform the welfare system, rein in military spending, and balance the federal budget.

The Meaning of Ryan’s Departure

Paul Ryan’s fate over the past several years is as good an indication as any of how far our politics have fallen.

.. Though the anti-Ryan vitriol faded after Steve Bannon’s defenestration, he continued to be viewed with suspicion by the talk-radio crowd and other arms of Trump Inc.

This was his reward for attempting to drag his party, and the country, toward a grown-up reckoning with our debt. Nearly singlehandedly, Paul Ryan had managed to put tackling entitlements on the national agenda.

.. making incremental reforms now—with no changes for current beneficiaries or those in their 50s—can prevent drastic shortfalls and extreme benefit cuts that will be necessary in just 16 years when Social Security is depleted. The outlook is even worse for Medicare and Medicaid.

But Donald Trump arrived on scene with the supposedly blinding insight that changes to entitlements are unpopular. Well, no kidding. He promised never to touch Medicare and Social Security—not even to ensure their future solvency. And so, the responsible, future-oriented Paul Ryan found himself governing with a backward-looking, whistling past the graveyard president.

.. Ryan and the party he helped to lead also lost its compass on Ryan’s own signature issue—fiscal responsibility.

.. it would have been nice if the party that fulminated about the dangers of deficits in the Obama years had found anything at all to cut—particularly when the economy is growing and unemployment is low.

.. Under Republican guidance, the federal deficit will be roughly double what it was in the final year of the Obama administration.

.. What has Trump taught? That trade wars are the way to improve the lives of the working class? They are popular, at least with Republicans.

.. 65 percent of Republicans favored Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

.. We are not behaving as responsible adults. Our greatest political challenge is out of control debt. Our greatest social challenges are declining families, increasing dependency, and eroding social cohesion. The debt could have been addressed by government.

The 7 Different Types of Narcissists

1. The Narcissistic Winner

– These narcissists derive their sense of self by feeling superior to others. As a consequence, everything becomes a competition. This behavior is not confined to naturally competitive areas such as sports, career achievements, and academics. This type of narcissist must also “win” at seemingly collaborative activities, such as parenting, driving, friendship, and even spirituality. A narcissistic winner is rarely happy for a friend’s good fortune.

In their eyes, another person’s success is their own failure. When they “lose” – in reality or in their own perception – their self-esteem takes a huge hit. They may become antagonistic, or try to overcompensate by belittling the achievements of others.

2. The Victim Narcissist

– The victim narcissist is the sneakiest of the bunch. These people are master manipulators who use affection and emotion to keep you close to them. They are very skilled at playing the underdog, and will often create or seek out situations in which they can do so effectively. A victim narcissist will have perfected their sob story. They will easily convince you that the world is out to get them, and that none of their misfortune is their own doing.

3. The Know-It-All Narcissist

– This person is convinced that they are more intelligent and well informed than those around them. They treat their opinions as fact and become deeply offended when faced with disagreement. To the know-it-all narcissist, you are either right or wrong – with them or against them. There is no in between. They often preach, but rarely listen. They are known to offer unsolicited advice to friends, family members, and even strangers.

However, they will become offended if someone does the same to them. The know-it-all narcissist feels that they have nothing to learn from others. Unfortunately, this causes them to miss out on quite a lot in life.

4. The  Narcissist Puppet Master

– These narcissists can absolutely not cope when things do not go as they’d like. To compensate for this, they find ways to manipulate everyone around them. The puppet master narcissist has learned to control others through several different tactics, and is skilled at finding an individual’s weak spot. They have no concept of integrity or empathy. A narcissist puppet master will liecheat, seduce, and withhold affection from loved ones to get what they want.

They are not above playing friends against one another or using innocent people as pawns. This type of narcissist will seek out your insecurities and vulnerabilities, and exploit them without even a trace of remorse.

5. The Narcissist Antagonist

– This type of narcissist always seems to have an enemy. They scream at other drivers, berate wait staff at restaurants, and leave nasty notes for neighbors who play their music too loud. This expression of their righteous indignation helps them to feel superior and in control. Unfortunately, it also keeps them from maintaining healthy relationships. They likely have few – if any – friends at work, and may even have lost jobs due to office disputes.

Their personal lives are in constant turmoil. If they are in a relationship, their partner is likely a very submissive personality with low self-esteem. The narcissist antagonist may be estranged from one or more family members, often with no hope of reconciliation.

6. The Status Narcissist

– To this type of narcissist, self-worth is only real if it can be proven in a concrete way and validated by others. They have little to no internal sense of self. Instead, they put all of their energy into accumulating money, power, and social status. They use these things to give themselves a value, and they assign value to others by the same measure. This type of narcissist knows how much you paid for your house and whether or not you hired the “right” interior decorator.

They are president of the PTA and their local homeowner’s association. A status narcissist is often very smart and accomplished. Unfortunately, this is where the depth of their personality comes to an end.

7. The Royal Narcissist

– This type of narcissist feels that they are always entitled to the best. They don’t believe in earning special treatment – they feel that they deserve it simply by birthright, much like royalty does. A royal narcissist will break rules, and will refuse to abide by societal conventions like taking turns or waiting in line. When faced with consequences, they will react as though they are being persecuted or treated unfairly. The royal narcissist, after all, is above things like speeding tickets.

They will also treat others – equals or even superiors – as inherently lesser than themselves. The world is their kingdom, and everyone within it is their servant.

“I am in love with you’, I responded.
He laughed the most beguiling and gentle laugh.
‘Of course you are,’ he replied. ‘I understand perfectly because I’m in love with myself. The fact that I’m not transfixed in front of the nearest mirror takes a great deal of self-control.’
It was my turn to laugh.”

Paul Ryan’s Retirement in 7 points

It would be difficult to overestimate the meaning of Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from Congress even as he occupies the office of Speaker of the House. So let’s estimate.

Twice in the past three years, the sitting Speaker has walked away from the office. Ryan only became Speaker because John Boehner, his predecessor, quit rather than suffer through a challenge from the bomb throwers in the Republican House conference. There’s no precedent for this in American history. The Speakership has been one of the most powerful offices in the world. Now it’s apparently more agony than ecstasy for a Republican.

.. A Republican likely won’t be elected speaker after the 2018 midterms. Ryan’s decision suggests he and others have seen enough internal data to know their capacity to hold their 23-seat majority is slipping away.

.. That makes 42 GOP retirements among the 237 Republican members of the 115th Congress—a number vastly higher than any recent Congress’s.

.. the Ryan retirement isn’t just a sign. It’s like a fireball from the sky. And it will occasion more retreats and embolden more Democrats.

.. the GOP is Trump’s party now, not Ryan’s.

.. His mercurial nature and habit of punching down have combined with general GOP support for Trump personally to prevent any such rump from emerging in the Congress. He’s already claimed the scalps of two Republican senators—Bob Corker and Jeff Flake—who attempted to do just that. How did their standing athwart Trump help them or anyone?

.. some of the GOP’s wonkier agenda items are being implemented by the Trump administration–notably, in the sphere of deregulation. So, yes, it’s Trump’s party, but there’s an extent to which it’s also Ryan’s party, the conservative policy wonk’s party. Except, of course, for two big things.

The first big thing is entitlement reform, which is the issue nearest to Ryan’s heart.

.. No matter what happens, no matter the growth of the economy or the glories of #MAGA, the remorseless logic of the actuarial charts showing the government going bankrupt from the cost of Medicare and Medicaid sometime around 2030 is unyielding

.. The second big thing is the massive federal deficit, which is projected to stay above the $1 trillion mark for God knows how long. The bitter irony here is that the Tea Party–whose ab nihilo existence began the Republican resurgence in the House and Senate, and whose anti-Establishment ethos was the precursor to Trump–was obsessed with the idea that Barack Obama was breaking the bank, and rightly so. Now, the Tea Party forms the hard schist of the Republican base, and it’s clearly decided not to hold Trump accountable