Budget debate highlights the mathematics of neglecting entitlement reform

by Ryan Streeter on April 12, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

David Brooks puts the Obama budget and today’s most consequential socioeconomic trends in perspective:

 We’re living in a country where 53 percent of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock, according to government data. Millions of people, especially men, are dropping out of the labor force. Nearly half the students who begin college are unable to graduate within six years. The social fabric for people without college degrees is in shambles.

Yet President Obama is not offering proposals commensurate with those problems. Under his budget, domestic discretionary spending would be lower as a share of G.D.P. than it was under Reagan, both Bushes and Nixon. When it comes to this category, Obama’s budget would take us back to Eisenhower levels.

Aside from the stubborn fact that there are plenty of examples of how increasing discretionary spending does next to nothing for the social problems it’s supposed to fix, Brooks draws our attention to the main issue in this year’s budget debate: our nation’s inability and unwillingness to tackle entitlements is now being felt in very real ways on the discretionary side of the budget. Plenty of people have been predicting this for a long time.

It’s now becoming a reality – even in Obama’s budget – as the mathematics of entitlement neglect have caught up to us.