What the federal government actually does
On Jan. 27, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) headed to Harvard University and delivered a pretty good speech (PDF) on why government is broken. In particular, I like this bit:
The core business of federal government is insurance, namely the giant entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and VA that few people want to understand. You often hear people say, “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!” These programs are so large that national defense and homeland security are sidelines; the rest of federal government – interstate highways, national parks, scientific research, agriculture, etc. – is fading in importance. Yet, despite insurance’s dominance, Congress has no committee on insurance; we spend all our time on other things. Tax expenditures exceed all appropriations, but rarely does Congress hold hearings on the annual $1.3 trillion drain on the nation’s finances.
To put it a bit differently, the federal government has become a large insurance company protected by an extremely well-armed security force. It does some other things, as well, but that's primarily where the money is going.
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