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Can the Tea Party Take on Entitlements?

11:31 AM, Aug 19, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Yuval Levin and Pete Wehner ask, in today's Wall Street Journal, whether the Tea Party will be willing to take on entitlements:

The tea party movement has been a profoundly positive force in American political life. It has recast the political debate to put the country's fiscal problems front and center, helped to drive a historic midterm election, and begun to put the brakes on the Obama administration's reckless spending.

Two years ago, all the focus in Washington was on how much to spend; today it is on how much to cut. The tea party freshman in the House of Representatives, together with more senior like-minded members, prevented the Republican leadership from agreeing to deals that would have increased taxes in exchange for largely illusory cuts. As a result, the debt-ceiling deal was significantly better than it would otherwise have been. Next year, discretionary spending will be, in absolute terms, less than it was this year—a small first step, but an important one.

But the next test, and the real test, for the tea party movement is whether it can channel its energy into entitlement reform—and specifically the reform of Medicare. The reason is simple: Our debt explosion is a health-entitlement explosion. Between now and 2050, according to the Congressional Budget Office, spending on federal health programs—Medicare, Medicaid and the new ObamaCare entitlement—will grow to 13% of gross domestic product from 5.6%, while all other federal spending combined will actually decline as a share of the economy.

Whole thing here

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