Sunday, September 9, 2012

Medicare & Social Security

Let's clear up some false claims (by Republicans) regarding two popular government programs - Medicare and Social Security.

According to Republicans, both are insolvent and headed for destruction. Republicans simply want to funnel this public money to Big Insurance and Wall Street - private insurance and 401Ks - the privatization of medical care and retirement.

Although, reality actually shows use that Medicare has controlled health care costs more than the private sector. And, Social Security has provided a more stable retirement than 401Ks.

Medicare has long-term solvency issues. But this is not because of some inherent problem with the program itself. It has to do with the fact that our health care is incredibly expensive and inefficient. We pay twice as much as the next country, and we don't get better results. This means controlling costs, clamping down on fraud, removing Big Pharma's grasp on overpriced medicine, and preventing unnecessary procedures and testing.


Social Security (as Dean Baker has exhaustively detailed in repeated articles) is, comparatively speaking, fine. The program is solvent for decades, even if we do nothing. Then, decades down the road, the program (if nothing is done) will still be able to pay 80 percent of promised benefits. Republicans claim, because so many baby boomers are retiring, increasing retirees will bankrupt the system. Again, it seems, the arithmetic is too difficult for Republicans.

First, this increase in the number of retirees was addressed by an increased payroll tax put in place in the 1980s. Second, workers today are more productive and also earn more. Thus, we don't need the same number of workers to support each retiree. Less workers can support more retirees. Removing the cap on taxable income in itself would solve any supposed shortfall.

So, if we remove the private sector (the fraud, the unnecessarily high costs) from medical care, much of the bloated and wasteful spending disappears and, thus, Medicare's long-term solvency greatly improves. And, the idea, being pushed by Republicans, that anything, at this time, needs to be done to Social Security is merely scare tactics.

Don't let Republican lies, greed and scare tactics destroy two of Government's greatest achievements - Medicare and Social Security.

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