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McKeon paints grim portrait of economy

Posted: August 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon delivered a grim report on national deficit spending during a speech Tuesday to local business leaders.

“We have been living beyond our means as individuals, as families, as cities, as counties, as states and federal government for a long time, and we can’t continue this way,” McKeon said. “We’ve promised people pensions that we can’t deliver on.”

“We made lots of promises that the money’s not there for,” said McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, told members of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of  Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee.

Visiting his district during the August congressional recess, McKeon said the nation can’t cut spending sufficiently to get it out of its budget deficit.

“If we eliminated all the spending that we vote on in appropriation bills, that’s about $700 billion for defense — counting for the wars we’re funding,” he said. “And all of the other spending that we vote on that goes out to states, local communities, education money, everything that we actually vote on.

“If we eliminated all of that, we would still be in deficit.”

The congressman called on the dozen or so civic leaders to help change the national mindset toward spending.

“Unless we can find the courage, the will, whatever it takes to address Social Security and Medicare and the other programs that are on autopilot, that just keep going, we cannot come to a balanced budget,” he said.

“Those programs are going down. They won’t survive for those grandchildren that I have at home today,” McKeon said, referring to his 11 grandchildren.

The congressman blamed social programs initiated by former presidents.

“We have about 10,000 people a day now that are hitting retirement — baby boomers coming into Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “You can’t blame it all on (George W.) Bush. You can’t blame it all on (President Barack) Obama.

“We ought to be blaming (Lyndon Baines Johnson) LBJ and (Franklin D.) Roosevelt because that’s where these programs started.

“Roosevelt had this great idea: Take just a little bit of your income, and then when you’re 65, we’ll provide for your retirement,” McKeon said.

“It provided a safety net for people, and then, over the years, it became such a cash cow that for every election the legislature would increase the benefits ’til it got to the point it just tipped upside down.”

McKeon noted fewer than than three people are paying into social benefits for every person drawing them.

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