01/25/2011

A PLEDGE BY AMERICA

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The Pledge By America is ultimately a pledge for reform and greater personal responsibility in America. It's purpose is to send a signal to Washington that we as citizens are willing to do our part to save our nation from its crippling debt and deficit.

America's future prosperity is at risk because of the federal government's massive debt and deficit, which will crush our economy if we don't get serious and act now. Consider these numbers:

  • Our deficit has historically been 2.9% of GDP. In 40 years, it will be 20%, which will drive our economy into the ground.    
  • Three years ago, our national debt stood at $9.5 trillion. Today, it stands at $14.2 trillion and will nearly double in the next decade.
  • The Government Accountability Office estimates that 92% of federal revenue in ten years will be going to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on debt. The remaining 8% is all that will be left for other government services.

Social Security and Medicare are two key sources of our out-of-control debt and deficit problem. The growth of Social Security and Medicare will swallow our economy over the next few decades (see below for more details if you want to learn more).

We as citizens have a role to play in fixing this mess. We can pledge to change what we expect from Medicare and Social Security - and challenge politicians in Washington to do the right thing. Some of them are willing to do what our country needs, but many are not.

They fear voters who will tell them to keep their hands off their benefits.

We can preserve benefits and reform the programs. But it will take courage. Republicans have promised to introduce some reforms to these programs this spring, but without more support from citizens like you and me, they may not get very far.

It's time for all of us to make our pledge, a Pledge By America, that will signal to Washington we are serious about reform and willing to support needed changes to Medicare and Social Security. Republicans made a Pledge To America last year promising to get Washington under control, but it can only take us so far. Success will come only when enough Americans stand up and pledge to support reform.

Supporting reform means valuing personal responsibility, saving for the future, working hard, and living with a less expensive government.

Sign up below, and pledge to do your part to save America's future!

THE PLEDGE

(for background on the Pledge, see below*)

  • I pledge to do all I can to be self-sufficient, and to raise children – if I have them – to be self-sufficient.
  • I pledge to work until I'm 70 years old before receiving any government benefits.
  • I pledge to save more of my income than I do now, by a few percentage points a year, to prepare for the future.
  • I pledge to allow a portion of my payroll taxes to be deposited into a savings account for my retirement, rather than relying only on Social Security.
  • I pledge to be a cost-conscious consumer of insurance and health care when I am age 70 and older, and to use a fixed contribution from the government each year to get the insurance and care I need rather than expecting the government to pay for whatever costs I rack up.
  • I pledge to live with less from the government in retirement and health benefits if I’m fortunate enough to be well-off when I retire.
  • I pledge to give more to charity, my place of worship, or elsewhere in my community to address the needs of those around me.

If you have taken the pledge, sign up here:

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* Background on the Pledge

Over the next couple of decades, the growth of Social Security and Medicare will crush our economy – unless we change them…and change what we expect from them.  We can cut spending in every other part of government, but if we don’t change Social Security and Medicare, our debt and excess spending will continue…and irreversibly damage America.

If we don’t do our part, politicians in Washington won’t do theirs. Reforming Social Security and Medicare always makes them nervous. But if we don’t change these programs soon, our future will be grim, and our children’s future much, much worse.

Consider the following:

  • If we don't reform these programs, our deficit as a percentage of America's GDP will grow to 15% in 20 years and nearly 25% in 30 years. Historically, it has been around 3%.  The American economy won't be able to sustain itself with figures like that. This chart from the Peterson Foundation and puts things in perspective. And the figures in this Heritage Foundation summary of the deficit problem shed even more light on this troubling issue.
  • More than this, without reform, these programs and interest on national debt will dominate all federal spending. Forty years ago, they were 38% of all federal spending, today they are 62%, and thirty years from now, they'll be 82%. These charts help explain how Medicare, Social Security, and the interest on our debt will take over almost all of the government's spending.

We've all made a lot of sacrifices in our own lives over the past couple of years. And the hard truth about our future is that Congress can only reform these burgeoning programs if we as private citizens continue to lead lives of personal responsibility. Specifically, we need to: save more, work later in life than we might have planned, live with fewer government benefits the richer we are, and stop expecting the government to pay every single health bill no matter the cost.

What we've been doing over the past few years - saving more, cutting back, and living within our means - is the model for our future...so that our children have a future.

Here's why:

  • Medicare essentially pays whatever bills seniors rack up, which is why it's out of control. Mathematically, the program will undo America. We can't raise taxes enough to pay for Medicare. We have to reform it. And the best way to do that is to move away from the federal government's current practice of paying for health care costs and toward a system in which seniors receive an annual contribution from the government that they in turn can use to get the insurance and care they need. One version of this idea you can read about is in the Roadmap produced by Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan. So far, his ideas for balancing the books in a way that still preserves health care coverage for older Americans are the best developed.
  • Social Security is already in the red. We "pay into" the program our entire working life, but we're not saving money in an account with our name on it. Our payroll taxes go to provide the Social Security payments that today's seniors receive. As people live longer, and as baby boomers retire, the program is quickly falling apart. The only way to make it solvent is to start paying benefits later, pay lower amounts to wealthier people, and save more.

Take the pledge

Save America’s future