Senate GOP Leader Warns of ‘Looming Entitlement Crisis’ – $495K Per Household

By Josiah Ryan | January 23, 2009 | 6:22 PM EST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gestures as he answers questions at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday, Jan. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

( - Americans face a ‘looming entitlement crisis’ in which every American household already shares nearly $500,000 in debt, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday at the National Press Club.
McConnell, who became the most powerful Republican in Washington with the departure of former President Bush on Tuesday, called on Democrats to use their expanded powers to address the entitlements problem.
“The expansion of entitlement spending is a looming crisis that has been overlooked for too long,” said McConnell. “With control of the White House and big majorities in Congress, Democrats now owe it to the American people to put their power to work on this vital issue.”
The General Accounting Office of the federal government estimates that, in total, the federal government currently faces a $53 trillion shortfall to cover the projected costs of promised entitlement benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs.
In other words, beyond what it is paying now and expected to gather through taxes, the federal government needs another $53 trillion.
McConnell said that if entitlement spending is left on its current trajectory, more money will be coming out of the Social Security fund than is being paid in within 10 years, and that even if the federal government were to pay off its current entitlement debts today, it would cost every American household $495,000.
“If we don’t rein this spending in soon, we’ll only have a fraction left for things like defense, roads, bridges, and special-ed,” said McConnell. “This is not a problem that raising taxes will solve.”
McConnell placed the major responsibility for solving the problem on Democrats who now control Congress and the White House, but he did pledge Republican support to solve the problem.
“Now Democrats assume responsibility for a number of pressing problems, including the one they refused to face in 2005,” said McConnell. “The problem with entitlement spending has not gone away. And here is my pledge: If they do so, they can expect more cooperation from Republicans than the last president received from them.”
If the government continues on its present course, it will go bankrupt, said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a video interview with “What we know is our government is growing at an unsustainable pace, and it will overwhelm our economy’s ability to pay the bills.”
“The current estimate of how much money we owe if we want to keep all the government’s promises, in today’s dollars, is $53 trillion,” said Ryan. “That estimate is from the General Accounting Office. … They’re saying we are $53 trillion short of fulfilling the promises the government is making to the American people in today’s dollars.”