In fixing budget, be unfair to boomers

That’s the plea from Washington Post economics columnist, and card-carrying baby boomer, Robert Samuelson:

I received my Medicare card the other day, recognizing my 65th birthday and making me part of one of America’s biggest problems. By this, I mean the burden that the massive baby-boom generation will impose on its children and the nation’s future. There has been much brave talk recently, from Republicans and Democrats alike, about reducing budget deficits and controlling government spending. The trouble is that hardly anyone admits that accomplishing these goals must include making significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for baby boomers.

(snip)

Yet, neither political party seems interested in reducing benefits for baby boomers. Doing so, it’s argued, would be “unfair” to people who had planned retirements based on existing programs. Well, yes, it would be unfair. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a worse time for cuts. Unemployment is horrendous; eroding home values and retirement accounts have depleted the elderly’s wealth. Only 19 percent of present retirees are “very confident” of having enough money to live “comfortably,” down from 41 percent in 2007, reports the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

But not making cuts would also be unfair to younger generations and the nation’s future. We have a fairness dilemma: Having avoided these problems for decades, we must now be unfair to someone. To admit this is to demolish the moral case for leaving baby boomers alone. Baby boomers – I’m on the leading edge – and their promised benefits are the problem. If they’re off-limits, the problem is being evaded. Together, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid represent two-fifths of federal spending, double defense’s share.

Samuelson goes on to recommend some familiar solutions: Raise the retirement age, limit or eliminate benefits for wealthy retirees, raise Medicare premiums. But he is one of the first boomers I’ve seen who is arguing for his own generation to be the one that draws the short straw in bearing the brunt of the nation’s fiscal burden.

That said, I don’t expect to see our political leaders make such a decision; nor, really, does Samuelson, and he also rattles off the usual lineup of political liabilities for anyone who would take his advice. But the alternative scenario he sketches should frighten anyone young enough to face the higher taxes, permanent budget deficits and lower standards of living he envisions should the problem remain unresolved.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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92 comments Add your comment

Why

December 28th, 2010
2:11 pm

How about just removing the earnings cap and don’t allow the rest of the federal government to borrow against SSN? That would go a long ways towards solidifying social security.

Darwin

December 28th, 2010
2:14 pm

“That said, I don’t expect to see our political leaders make such a decision;…” But I thought the Repubs were going to fix everything? I mean, where is all that excitement about GA being a really red red state? Were we lied to? Or, are we just stupid? Get ready for a big dose of reality tea party folks.

carlosgvv

December 28th, 2010
2:16 pm

I paid into the Social Security system and was promised Medicare for many long years. When you are young and full of vinegar you do not realize just how hard life can get and how fate can use you for a punching bag. So, do not make us retires the bad guys in this and casually throw a lot of us onto the streets. If you want to save money have Congress establish a blue-ribbon commission to identify and eleminate waste and fraud in Govenment offices and spending. Do not single out the weakest in society and use them as the scapegoat. Human nature being what it is, I won’t bet any money that Government will do the right thing though. No doubt the path of least resistance will be followed.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

December 28th, 2010
2:23 pm

Means test, problem solved.

You know, get back to what the program was originally legislated for.

~~~~~

This is pretty funny-

Millions of H&R Block Inc. customers who relied on short-term loans backed by their expected tax refunds will not have that option this year because H&R Block’s banking partner was forced by federal regulators to stop offering the loans. -Urinal

Every year, for the last who knows how many years, low income earners would way the cost versus the benefits of getting their tax returns immediately but now the dummycrat feds have come to the rescue, deciding you are too stupid to make these decisions.

Arbitrarily.

Not to mention the harm done to H&R Block.

Arbitrarily.

Just sayin…

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

December 28th, 2010
2:27 pm

Well, I say put the old geezers to work as greeters at WalMart and top giving them SS checks and free medical care. They’ll never go out and find a job if we keep paying them to lay around and loaf. Us Tea Partiers voted in the Republicans to take care of guvmint spending and make lazy bums work.

Just keep the guvmint’s hands off of my Medicare.

The Snark

December 28th, 2010
2:27 pm

This baby boomer is willing to scale back on his SS and Medicaid benefits for the good of the country. I suspect there are millions more. All we need are elected officials with the courage to ask. I see very few at the moment.

jconservative

December 28th, 2010
2:31 pm

Samuelson is entirely correct in the need to cut Baby Boomers entitlements but he neglected to list the most obvious and most odorous program that needs cutting. The George W Bush Medicare Part D drug program.

One can make an argument that the Medicare payroll deduction pays for part of the Medicare Part A, hospitalization.

One can make an argument that the Medicare deduction from Social Security checks, minimum $96.40 per month, pays for most of Medicare Part B, doctors.

No one can make an argument that the Bush Drug Plan, Part D Medicare, is paid for by anything but taxpayer money from the general tax fund.
Because that is actually how it is paid – general tax funds.
If there has ever been a socialistic program in this country, this is it.

My suggestion is to cancel the Bush Drug Plan. This piece of socialism will cost us 10 trillion dollars over the baby boomer period. Thank you Republicans.

And, as my grandson says, “we don’t got” 10 trillion dollars.

My two cents.

P/S Kyle – Nice timely column. You need to keep this type of “tighten the belt” conversation in front of we readers.

P/S #2 – I am retired and draw Social Security, I am enrolled in Medicare and have a Part D drug plan. Repeat, the Part D needs to be cancelled by Congress.

luangtom

December 28th, 2010
2:51 pm

Why doesn’t one of the newly elected Congressmen that will be sworn-in during January pilot a bill that would repay Social Security what was “borrowed” (i.e., STOLEN) from it, beginning with LBJ to fund his Great Society projects? Why not push for repayment of “owed” monies from our Allies from WWII? Why not push toward a defict-free budget over the next decade? These would all off-set any new changes in Social Security that are deemed necessary.

Why not push for repeal of amendments to Social Security like teens drawing on their parents’ SS for college tuition? SS originally was certainly not intended to fund college attendance. Just think of the savings to the program were these outrageous add-ons to be dropped.

Nope. Our leaders, in their infinite wisdom, will most likely widen the breadth of Social Security and grant it to all illegals immigrants for their health and security. It would most certainly garner votes for those that voted to pass it. Reality says we will never see belt-tightening if it would mean loss of votes.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
2:56 pm

“How about just removing the earnings cap”

By that, “why”, you mean allow we baby boomers to continue working full or part-time, continue to pay our income taxes while being able to earn more income before paying SS penalties if we draw less benefits under early retirement, thereby cutting the overall costs to the system and government per se’?

If so, I’ve argued for that very thing, though, more must be done and if Samuelson is one of the first boomers you’ve seen who is arguing for his own generation to be the one that draws the short straw in bearing the brunt of the nation’s fiscal burden, then I’m at least in your top ten most seen, Kyle.

It is time our for politicians to man-up with the rest of us who know we must take less and most of us are willing to take less in order to leave more for our children and grandchildren than an unbearable load of debt, a miserable standard of living and no hope of any better future. No, we are not suicidal fools but we are also not selfish greedy fools of the life and let die society either. We cannot with good conscience say, “I shall live while others perish around me”.

Jimmy62

December 28th, 2010
3:01 pm

Carlosgv: The baby boomers are anything but the weakest generation. You are the richest. Richer than any generation before, and richer than any after (so far, and probably for a long time to come, unless we fix this mess).
You are going to get far more back from SS than you put in. And few people under 40 expect they’ll get a penny back from SS when they retire, because all the money went to the richest generation decades before.

SS was started to help people when they get past the age of being able to work. Life expectancy when you started paying in to SS was much lower than it is now, you can work longer than people used to be able to. So what’s really not fair is that you get to retire at 65 and get full SS benefits, but my generation will have to retire in our 70s and get pretty much nothing.

Right now the baby boomers get the long end of the stick. Raising SS age, lowering benefits, and all that only serves to shorten your stick to the one generations X and Y get.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
3:18 pm

luangtom, I agree. Changes in SSI should be made. Those benefits should cease upon reaching 19 years of age.

Illegal immigrants is another subject, however, if they get to remain in this country legally they should not receive an amnesty. They should have to forfeit a few benefits if they refuse to go back to wherever is home and immigrate the legal way to get on the pathway of citizenship that exists now in order to receive the full benefits of a citizen; and social security should be one of those benefits that should be considered in forfeiture to obtain “a legal resident clemency” (not an amnesty) that shall not to include citizenship.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
3:27 pm

Raising SS age, lowering benefits, and all that only serves to shorten your stick to the one generations X and Y get.

Jimmy62, I don’t mind shortening my – don’t know that I should say “stick”- but by amount I can get less, is fine. However, as much as I hate the progressive tax it is not out of the question with me anyway to “means test” that age raising requirement. There are some of us who will sincerely need those SS benefits just to be able to eat anything that might resemble food.

Dudley

December 28th, 2010
3:33 pm

I plan on working until I can no longer do my job physically.

Dudley

December 28th, 2010
3:36 pm

I also think you should retire for 10 years after graduation and then work till you die that would help with ss.

Claude

December 28th, 2010
3:39 pm

I think the Simpson-Bowles Commission had the right idea. Raise the retirement age but create an exemption for people with the most physically demanding jobs. Office workers should work longer, while people whose knees or backs are giving out can retire.

Dudley

December 28th, 2010
3:44 pm

Or you could get a job with a good retirement plan not funded by fed govt. Boilermakers have a good retirement plan. I love my union

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
3:47 pm

If there has ever been a socialistic program in this country, this is it.

All of the entitlement programs in this country are “socialistic”. We have three basic political socioeconomic systems at work in this country: Socialism, Corporatism and Populism.
Populism barrows a little from each of the other two in truth to serve the struggles of common people against the elites of the other two.

As a populist I can live with a little of both, however we have too much of both in extreme amounts absent a healthy independence of them for a good balance.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
4:09 pm

Okay Kyle, jump in anytime. All the low hanging fruit has been picked now. Got any other ideas or new ones. After all it is your generation that is going to get slammed the hardest if we don’t do some drastic things to the entitlements.

1961_Boomer

December 28th, 2010
4:20 pm

And this is the crux of the problem. As a 1961 baby boomer, I have (with mine and my employers contributions) paid over $200k into a SS program where I am not likely to get out more than I put in. Had I been allowed to keep that money and invest it over my lifetime, I would have over $750k today. Instead, it has been spent by the federal government. I HAVE saved over $200k of my own funds. These funds will now be used to PUNISH me, and reduce the amount of the benefits I might receive in the future. In short, I will get fracked in order to pay for the “greatest” generation that came before me and for the leading edge of the baby boomers. It should be further understood that the trailing edge of baby boomers have had the worst investing environment of the last 100 years. See:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703440604575495670714069694.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsForth

I was forced to pay into a system that I never wanted, did not need, and robbed me of my ability to pay my own way. Who can afford to raise a family, give the government 12% AND save another $10%?? Now , I am vilified as moocher, a geezer who should “pay his own way”, all the while the government STILL continues to rob me while promising to rob me even more in the future.

1961_Boomer

December 28th, 2010
4:27 pm

Whoops, I must be getting senile. HERE is the link that show late baby boomers and the investment environment that we face… :

http://moneywatch.bnet.com/retirement-planning/blog/retirement-beat/late-baby-boomers-the-worst-off-401k-generation/490/

in stark contrast to the leading boomers and the “greatest” generation. So tell me who suffers more? The greatest generation with their depression followed by a FANTASTIC investment environment, or the late boomers, burdened by the great recession, taxes, and a dismal investing environment?

EZ8

December 28th, 2010
4:30 pm

Including employers matching SS payments @ around 800.00 per month times 35 yrs…I don’t imagine I will receive 300,000 in payments in my retirement lifetime. The money that went in was misused by our elected officials. Let them take a paycut. What they make is absurd. Public servants. B.S.

Swede Atlanta

December 28th, 2010
4:32 pm

Re Jconservative and termination of the Medicare Drug Program

I would be all for this IF there was a replacement program that enabled seniors to purchase private insurance at a reasonable premium. Further the new program cannot prevent any insurer from negotiating with the drug companies. That provision in the current Medicare Drug Program was corporate welfare at its best under GW Bush and it has cost billions upon billions of dollars.

For the average senior, the costs of their daily medications, in the aggregate, far exceed recurring costs for doctor visits, etc. There will obviously be situations such as surgeries, cancer treatments, etc. which dwarf medication costs. But if you were to sit down and do a budget for a senior, without affordable medications, it is a choice between not taking their medications and eating.

That isn’t an America I believe in.

Cherokee

December 28th, 2010
4:32 pm

I’m glad that someone is addressing this fairness issue from the Baby Boom generation. I’m one of the often-maligned “Millennials” (well, an early Millennial…) and none of us expect to see a dime of the “insurance” money we have been and will continue to pay into the system. The rhetoric about generational theft really hits home when the pay stub comes home and we see how much we’ll never see again.

The Boomers are going to have to take a hit in this. They will complain about not getting full benefits, but please look at it from our end. We’ll get nothing, absolutely nothing, if we don’t cut back right now for current beneficiaries.

Rose

December 28th, 2010
4:34 pm

1961 Boomer, I’m with you. We lost our jobs through no fault of our own, can’t get employed (because we’re OLD – according to anyone younger than us), we’re not quite old enough for SS and Medicare and we have PAID into these programs OUR WHOLE LIVES!!!! We’d love a job so we wouldn’t be in “forced” retirement. We also paid into our “own” programs, so that we aren’t on the street right now. Color me bitter and sick and tired of hearing everyone disparage people in our situation as lazy or whatever. It’s OUR money that was taken from us for our retirement and really will need it, how hard is that to understand??

Rafe Hollister

December 28th, 2010
4:35 pm

How about we sell off ANWR to a group of evil Oil companies, allowing them to drill there. The purchase price goes to Soc Sec fund. Pass a law removing the Social Security Trust Fund from the government to a Trustee. Raise the age of retirement to 70 and Soc Sec is fixed for many years. Next problem is Medicare, where we use some level of privatization and disincintive to use the system, like substantial co-pays on doctor visits. Too many old peoples only social life is to go the doctors office and share stories in the waiting room.

Swede Atlanta

December 28th, 2010
4:36 pm

EZ8

You weren’t paying in for your own coverage. If that were the case no one would have been eligible for benefits until the program had run a full generation to retirement. You were paying in to cover those who were on Social Security while you were working. The social security contributions you and your employer made were distributed to more than one individual.

There is absolutely a case to be made for waste and even fraud but you seem to fail to understand how the program is designed.

Chaps

December 28th, 2010
4:40 pm

The ones placing the burden n younger generations are the legislatures who passed Social security and Medicare in the first place thus setting up dependency on government.. Followed by those who put so many add-on into place, including benefits to people here illegally, that costs have soared. Followed by those who stole the money from the SS “trust fund” to pay for give away schemes to buy votes. Don’t put the blame on the generation that has contibuted the most and longest.

EZ8

December 28th, 2010
4:44 pm

Swede…Thanks for that reminder of how the money was paid out.I was just being very simplistic and venting.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

Swede Atlanta, you’re going after the “real money”. I agree with “IF” there was a replacement program that enabled seniors to purchase private insurance at a reasonable premium. I would like to see one step more where seniors and all others could be owner/members with full equal voting rights of their mutual health care insurance provider/corporation that would providing basic and major care coverage, the rest left to the private insurers to sell. Government’s role: Oversight. Private Insurance Companies role: compete with our co-ops if you can on basic and major medical coverage otherwise be happy to sell to the optional coverage market. Drug Companies role: Tough when you have to compete against a co-op that re-imports drugs and buys in bulk but you Big Pharma guys are more than welcome to cut your ridiculous prices at anytime. I mean really, not many of us will take offense if you do.

Lil' Barry Bailout

December 28th, 2010
5:00 pm

If your plan is to retire on your SS benefits, you’re an idiot and a parasite.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
5:02 pm

Chaps, the blame rests on the shoulders of the politicians not the boomers. We done what we were told to do without any darn choice. But as always we pay, we pay and we pay some dang more!

People we got to hold the feet of this next Congress to the fire. We are in the hole they put us in and they have to stop digging that hole deeper!

1961_Boomer

December 28th, 2010
5:17 pm

But you see, LilBarryBailout, our plan was never to retire on SS benefits. The government FORCED us to contribute such that SS became a necessary part of retirement. There was no way that I could fund my complete retirement AND pay 12% of my salary to SS. So while I have *some* money saved, I will depend on SS for part of my retirement. To call me a parasite after forking $200k into that program is arrogant, malicious, and completely ignores the fact that I have already contributed more that, if I was allowed to invest it, would have resulted in more for my retirement than many people make in a lifetime. You are only a parasite if you receive more than you put into the system, and it is not likely that me or others in my situation will EVER receive more than we have already put into SS.

carlosgvv

December 28th, 2010
5:22 pm

Jimmy62

I am most certainly not rich. If it wern’t for Social Security I would be out on the street since trying to get a job at my age would be next to impossible. I’m assuming you know age discrimination in hiring is rampant in America. Most of the money I put in was done when the dollar was worth a lot more than it is now. So, I will never get back all the money I have put in. It would help if you would learn to engage brain before shifting mouth.
t

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
5:37 pm

Ah c’mon people, you don’t really believe that in this day and time of Political Correctness, in the age of affirmative action that levels all the playing fields that you are being TARGETED, PROFILED AND DISCRIMINATED against by employers because you are old like me, now do we?

DARN RIGHT! Age discrimination is real.

lester maddox

December 28th, 2010
5:47 pm

lil barry, you tell me how the hell I’m a parasite when I paid the damn money in. Contrary to what Kyle and other “conservatives (my big ole hairy)”will tell you, SS is not an entitlement. Don’t mistake it for Medicare and Medicaid. It pays for itself. Even as it stands now it can pay full benefits until 2035 or so. After that it will be able to pay 75% of benefits for a long time. A little tweak now will go a long way towards fixing it for future generations.
Most financial advisors have always recommended including your SS in your retirement plans.

Miller

December 28th, 2010
5:48 pm

Folks, there is more than enough to go around here. This need not create some huge rift between generations. I’m a Generation X guy (1966), and I want/believe that the boomers should get Social Security at the level at which it was promised.
I’m willing to live with means-testing and an increase in my retirement age for Social Security. Gradual changes as proposed in the Deficit Commission will bring Social Security in balance but Medicare might create an issue. I’m just glad to see some serious discussion about not passing deficits on to our children and grandchildren. We absolutely have to make sure they have a shot at the American dream without drowning in taxes and regulation.

barking frog

December 28th, 2010
5:52 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout

December 28th, 2010
5:00 pm
If your plan is to retire on your SS benefits, you’re an idiot and a parasite.
————————————————————————————
and you get to pay for it….sucker

Ole Guy

December 28th, 2010
6:15 pm

The question, sir, is not a matter of fairness or unfairness toward a generation knocking on retirement’s door. We, as a generation, could completely forgo all benefits, and you know something…IT WOULDN’T IMPACT ONE IOTA ON THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. The problem(s) lie in our elected officials spending public monies like drunken Sailors. The irresponsible fiscal behaviors, both in Washington and in our state capitols, are the problem; rather than stomp on any-and-all targets of convenience in trying to bring our finances under control, lets first identify the root causes of these problems. Impacting on benefits will only serve as a feel-good, short-lived tool, not alltogether different than one who attempts to drink one’s problems away. In the morning, following that short period of revelry, all we’ll have are headaches.

To those who express unchallenged agreement to simply cutting senior benefits…SHAME ON YOU! Are you that incapable, despite your assumed wisdom of the ages, of critically thinking through the problem? Are you simply willing to accept the verdict of others without uttering…”Now hold on just a gd minute!”?

LET’S STOP AND THINK BEFORE ACTING!

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
6:23 pm

Now just think how these wonderful programs like social security, medicare and medicaid were promised they were going to be and how much they would costs us.

Now think how wonderful Obamacare is going to be in about 10 or 20 years and what it will actually wind-up costing us.

Just saying…

Dave

December 28th, 2010
6:25 pm

I’m a boomer with a few years to go. I don’t like the idea of making me work a few more to get a bit of money. I’m not sure which side of a means test I’d fall on; but, assuming the cut was reasonable (probably not something I’d want to bet on), I’d rather get a bit less if I were on the high side and be able to quit working (full time). If I’m going to take one for the team, I want to see cuts in what gets paid to other “entitlement” classes like the military and foreign aid, to allow for less draconian cuts to people that truly need money just to survive,

lester maddox

December 28th, 2010
6:36 pm

What are you saying M.H. Smith? You folks always want to malign the health care plan that over the long haul will save us money. But noooo, never a word about the prescription drug plan that Bush and Co. gave big pharma. Unfunded for the life of the program. Never even tried to hide the fact it was borrowed money. Hypocrites!

young boomer

December 28th, 2010
6:41 pm

Jimmy62@3:01 pm

What you also fail to consider is that the 55-65 age group is one of the first to be laid off also.

They are also not able to get hired as fast for 3 reasons age descrimination, previous salary and potential illnesses.

Michael H. Smith

December 28th, 2010
7:01 pm

lester, what I’m saying is that government is big on promises and very lousy on keeping them. Government didn’t keep their promises on Social Security or Medicare and it is not going to be any different with ObumerCare. It won’t save us any money, it will eventually cost more than promised.

Before casting me into a lump be sure you know what you are talking about. About all you did get right in your tirade was never “a word”. It was in fact, actually a hell of alot of words that I spoke publically against the Bush drug plan and BIG PHARMA (also see my post @ 4:54 pm on this blog) including two emails. One to then Senator Miller and the other to then and still Senator Chambliss urging them to vote against the Bush drug plan.

Independent

December 28th, 2010
7:17 pm

I am a baby boomer, and I don’t mind cuts to Social Security and Madicare, BUT only so far as to make them sustainable in the long run. I would rather see cuts to the amount Social Security pays out rather than up the retirement age, since we have incresed the average life span, but not the HEALTHY life span. A 66 year-old today is just as unhealthy as 20 years ago; they just live longer. Make sure that all funds paid into the Social Security trust fund comes back to Social Security, though. It is not our fault that Congress regularly used the SS trust fund to make the deficit “look” smaller. As far as Medicare is concerned, we should start by taking away the prescription drug benefit that was added by Bush, but no one paid any more into Medicare for it!! Also, the people who are benefitted from it certainly did not pay for it. If you want to add it back, then adjust the Medicare tax to pay for it, and have it kick in in 40 years. The rest of the budget will have to be balanced the hard way, with cuts and/or tax increases, period.

ODDOWL

December 28th, 2010
10:42 pm

What the hell do social security, medicare and medicaid have to do with the $13.5 trillion dollars national debt ??? Social security and medicare are solvent for the next thirty-five years. There is no viable reason for the Republicans to screw around with these programs. The states are having problems paying their share of medicaid contributions, not the Federal Government. Nine trillion dollars of the debt was borrowed and spent by the Republicans Reagan, Bush-1 and Bush/Cheney who gave massive tax cuts to the richest 10% of the population. Two trillion dollars was borrowed and wasted up on the Iraq and Afganistan wars. So how did social security, medicare and medicaid become responsible for the $13.5 trillion dollars debt ??? Its not. The Tea Party Republicans are using the debt as an excuse to attack and attempt to defund and dismantle the nation’s social programs created by the Democrats. The Republicans have been trying to defund, dismantle and destroy FDR’s social programs every since they were signed into law back in the 30’s. They’ve attempted to defund and dismantle every other Democrat social programs that have been established since then. The Tea party Republican’s cut spending, reduce the debt philosophy is nothing more than an attack upon Democrat’s philosophical social values. The Republicans ran up the debt and the deficit, then they scape goat and blame the Democrats for it. The Tea party Republicans hypocrisy was exposed when they embraced and voted for extending the Bush/Cheney tax cuts for the rich using borrowed money. The Republicans are fiscally irresponsible, borrow and spend, deficit chicken hawks who have no credibility concerning the deficit, debt and social programs. There will be no tax cuts for anyone for the next ten years. Share the wealth, tax the rich.

CJ

December 29th, 2010
12:08 am

Robert Samuelson: “The trouble is that hardly anyone admits that accomplishing these goals must include making significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for baby boomers.

Samuelson has defined the problem poorly. In addition, his assertion that we “must” make significant cuts is only one of other possible approaches.

First, Social Security is fully funded for decades into the future, and despite media assertions to the contrary, is far from being a crisis. As others have indicated above, increasing or removing the cap on social security taxes would eliminate the problem (not crisis) that is causing all this melodrama, and as an added bonus, perhaps allow us to reduce the rates slightly.

On the other hand, the rising cost of health care in our country drives Medicare costs up at unsustainable rates and is the major driver behind projected future deficits. Relative to many, if not most, industrialized countries, our health care costs are disproportionately high. So, the notion that we should just accept ridiculously high health care costs and cut benefits strikes me as lazy, stupid, or both. Rather than treating the symptoms (rising Medicare costs), as Samuelson suggests that we “must”, maybe we could consider treating the disease (disproportionately high health care costs).

Lil' Barry Bailout

December 29th, 2010
7:05 am

SS was never meant to be the primary source of retirement income. The monthly payments are pathetic…it provides a minimal level of support to prevent dying from exposure or starvation. If that was your plan, you’re an idiot.

Lil' Barry Bailout

December 29th, 2010
7:08 am

CJ: On the other hand, the rising cost of health care in our country drives Medicare costs up at unsustainable rates and is the major driver behind projected future deficits.
—————-

Bbbbut…the Idiot Messiah “fixed” health care last year, dontcha remember? Hell he fixed it so well that it REDUCES the deficit!

Heh heh.

Lil' Barry Bailout

December 29th, 2010
7:10 am

lester maddox: But noooo, never a word about the prescription drug plan that Bush and Co. gave big pharma.
——————

You do know that the Idiot Messiah INCREASED spending on this awful program, don’t you?

nose4news.

December 29th, 2010
7:20 am

I’m a baby boomer. I think we should take the Gen X’rs and The Y-bother generation (Kyle’s generation), and make them all pay confiscatory taxes to support our liberal lazy lifestyles as we age and the effects of all that sex drugs and rock and roll (which we invented, and which the y-bothers ruined), start to make us weak and silly.