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Do nothing, and health care will bankrupt America

Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute makes that argument for U.S. News and World Report.

After doubling to $20 trillion since 2009, the national debt is now projected to soar to an unfathomable $92 trillion over the next 30 years. At that point, depending on interest rates, between 60 and 100 percent of all individual income taxes will go towards paying the interest on this debt.

What is driving the federal budget into bankruptcy? Health care spending.

The problem is not tax revenues (they will continue growing above historical averages), nor other spending programs (Social Security is the only other major category growing as a share of the GDP).

Rather, health care is devouring the budget.

Remember this as Congress debates Obamacare and Medicaid reform. Critics denounce Republican attempts to “slash health care spending.” In reality, their proposals would slow the growth of health care spending relative to the current baseline projections – projections that are completely unsustainable anyway.

After staying between two and three percent of the economy in the 1980s and 1990s, federal health spending has jumped to 5.5 percent of GDP today, on its way to a projected 9.3 percent thirty years from now – and even that assumes a long-term slowdown in the growth of per-capita health care costs.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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