Thursday, July 29, 2004

Centrists.Org: Book Summary -- Pete Peterson's Running on EmptyChapter 5: “How The Democrats Got Us Into This Mess (With Republican Help)� This chapter describes the creation and expansion of major entitlement programs. Peterson maintains Democrat policy makers, including Franklin Roosevelt knew their programs were based on faulty economic assumptions and moved ahead anyway. Some of these programs were developed in response to genuine needs. Others were simply designed to buy political support from targeted special interest groups. All were deliberately designed to be larger than necessary in order to gain support from more affluent voters who might otherwise have objected to expenditures more tightly targeted to low income families. Once these programs were established, their funding became almost automatic. In the case of individual entitlements, the funding became mandatory and the government could be sued if it failed to provide the promised benefits. Although Democrats started this process, Republicans have also used expanded entitlement spending to curry favor with special interest groups. Peterson points out that according to a 2002 government survey, only about 4.2 percent of all senior citizens had a major problem affording prescription drugs. Nevertheless, Republicans pushed through the largest expansion of entitlement spending in 30 years in order to placate AARP and other senior citizen lobbies. Meanwhile Democrats attacked the new $400 billion program for not being generous enough.

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