The second question to Sen. Tim Scott during his visit to Cornerstone Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church on Tuesday came from Manning resident Paul Korzec, who asked, "Why are we having so much trouble fixing Washington? Why can't junior people like yourself fix this problem? Everything seems to be running status quo."
"I don't disagree with you that the dysfunction in Washington is unattractive and frustrating. I think we do have successes we don't celebrate. I watch the news. I'm more of a Fox guy than anything when I do watch it, but I think you can watch the news too much and need an anti-depressant. No matter what channel it is - CNN, Headline News, Fox News - it's all too often, toxic. Washington is broken. But I would submit to you that it's not as broken as it was or as it seems from what you see on the news. But it is still broken.
I vote against any budget where we continue to spend more money than we are taking in. We don't even have a budget; we have a continuing resolution. That's not a budget, and it's the worst way to plan.
It's like planning for three months when you have a business. You don't plan for three months with a business; you plan for five-year cycles. So, we are dysfunctional by the very foundation on which we stand.
Still, some thing aren't celebrated when you get to the progress we are making.
Basically, you have two pots of money. You have entitlement money, which involves mandatory spending, and you have discretionary money, which is what we appropriate every year.
Our annual appropriations used to be about $1 trillion per year. The entitlement money, that's about 2.5 times that.
On our annual appropriation, we've been able to get that money back down to about the 2008 level. We've cut it about $20 or $30 billion per year, but when you compare it to what we were spending, and having a $1.2 and $1.3 trillion deficit in 2011, it looks like pennies.
Our real problem is that the mandatory spending, our entitlement programs, whether Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, all that money is on a standard automatic increase. From a budget standpoint, unless we're willing to fix entitlement situations, we'll never have a balanced budget."
We need to have the courage - hence, term limits, because you have more courage if you know you're leaving and don't have to run for re-election - to fix the entitlements.
I have a plan, and I hope to be there long enough to see it through. I would consider it one of my chief accomplishments.
In my opinion, the only way to deal with entitlement programs is to figure out a path to solvency. Someone at some point has to take less.
Those of you in this room 54 years and older, this conversation is not about you.
Y'all under 54, raise your hands. Here's the deal: All of us are going to have to adjust to a different type of benefit, or a different age to get those benefits. If we're going to remain the most compassionate country on Earthy, and take care of our seniors, then we can't get the same benefits they're getting today, or we can't get them at the same age.
Social Security was designed when 16 people were working for every one person that was retired. And that one person who was retired only lived for three years.
Now, I want y'all to live for a long time.
Now, there are two people working for every one person retired. And instead of passing away in three years, that retired person lives at least 15 years. This is good news, but we have to adjust the formula to deal with this reality. I am going to have to get my money a little later, or get a little less. And it's well worth it.
If we did that, sir, we could extend these entitlement programs, and bend the curve of what we're spending and move it back into reality. We will spend less, be solvent and you'll feel better about the country.