To the editor:
Much is being made in Washington about the "pork" in the budget. Spending bills for 2008 include $17 billion in earmarks, many, if not most, of dubious value.
Pointing them out has taken on the aura of sport for politicians.
The hard facts are that these pork items are nothing compared to entitlement costs.
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health care for veterans and other automatic benefits are about 30 percent of the federal budget, of around $820 billion a year.
Health care benefits, if left unchecked, will grow in three decades to numbers beyond imagination.
Congress and the new president must make hard choices in trying to reduce the strains on the federal budget.
Some of the toughest, unpopular actions could be cutting benefits, limiting eligibility, hiking taxes.
The longer "politics as usual" is practiced, the more painful will be the cure.
This certainly is a time for the highest level of statesmanship and bipartisanship to be applied with courage in the face of interest groups who will certainly scream and want other, not them, to take the hits necessary for the benefit of all.