USA Today Editorial: Cut entitlements to control debt

Of the two programs, Social Security is by far the easier to fix. In 1983, a bipartisan agreement shored up the program for decades. It can be rescued again, much as it was then, by gradually raising the retirement age for able-bodied workers and bumping up the payroll tax. Other options include slowly reducing the rate of benefit growth, raising the wage cap and tightening eligibility requirements for disability

The more urgent and difficult issue is the surge in spending on Medicare, Medicaid and related programs. The numbers tell the story. In 1990, Washington spent $180 billion on health care, accounting for 14% of federal spending. In 2017, the expected tab is $1.4 trillion, or 30% of federal spending. As President Obama said at his news conference Wednesday, “Health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.”

One obvious place to start is bringing the Medicare eligibility age in line with that of Social Security. In their failed budget negotiations in 2011, Obama and House Speaker John Boehner tentatively agreed to raise it from 65 to 67. Such a rise would cut the government’s bill while increasing the share of the population in market-based health care.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Medicare, Politics in General, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

11 comments on “USA Today Editorial: Cut entitlements to control debt

  1. Br. Michael says:

    Never happen. The Democrats have demagogued this too successfully. Just remember a “cut” in Washington speak really means a reduction in a projected spending increase.

  2. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    No. 2, exactly. I about pull my hair out every time they start talking about this ‘fiscal cliff’ of mandatory cuts that is slated to go into effect if nothing is done. It’s over a 10 year period, and its mostly only cuts to annual increases.

  3. Milton says:

    [blockquote]In 1990, Washington spent $180 billion on health care, accounting for 14% of federal spending. In 2017, the expected tab is $1.4 trillion, or 30% of federal spending. As President Obama said at his news conference Wednesday, “Health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.”[/blockquote]

    The cliche about murdering one’s parents and then appealing for clemency on the grounds that one is an orphan comes to mind. 🙁

  4. Teatime2 says:

    OK, before they stick it to elderly workers and the disabled, why is there never any talk about either eliminating or severely curtailing SSI? For Pete’s sake, that’s like free money for alcoholics, drug addicts, and people who claim to have mental illness but can’t prove it to Social Security Disability standards. If I’m not mistaken, you also needn’t to have paid anything into Social Security to collect SSI. That is a TRUE entitlement so why isn’t it discussed?

    As for Social Security Disability, how can they possibly make it more difficult? People are already dying while waiting for their application review and appeals. Shoot, I was a having a devil of a time keeping my kidneys functioning without medical care because Congress imposed a two-year wait for Medicare coverage from when you’re declared disabled. Non-profit clinics and charitable programs can’t provide the specialized care needed for those of us with odd diseases like Lupus and Scleroderma.

    Is there waste? I’m sure there is. But don’t make some sweeping pronouncements and new rules that are going to literally jeopardize the lives of Americans who contributed to the system for decades but then needed the programs they paid into. Sheesh, STUDY the programs and then actually READ the reports that are presented, Congress. From there, use a surgical blade, not a hatchet, to cut.

  5. jkc1945 says:

    When a government implements Ponzi pyramid schemes, it ought to at least have the decency to mention, as a part of the scheme, the projected approximate date of the inevitable collapse of the scheme, in order that the people of that generation could at least take cover.

  6. Teatime2 says:

    #5 — If you’re referring to Social Security, then there is/was no reason for Social Security to become insolvent but for the spending of the collected funds for other purposes. When I was teaching, I had NO choice about having TRS funds deducted from my paycheck, either, but the benefits were pathetic and the TRS system could change the rules whenever they wanted, never for the teachers benefit.

    Social Security is like any other pension fund — it collects money from all and then pays benefits to retirees. If the oversees of a private pension fund diverted the contributions to other things and told retirees that the age upon which they could draw funds would have to increase and benefits must decrease or not grow much, then they would be charged with fraud. Maybe that’s what should be done.

  7. Br. Michael says:

    Much of what the government does would be fraud if a private individual did it. And these government schemes can become insolvent. Anyone remember Multiple Employer Welfare Associations? All they were were underfunded, non-reserved insurance companies with no Guaranty Association, and they sold fully accessible policies directly to the insureds. Can any guess what happened when the claims actually came in and they became insolvent?

  8. Capt. Father Warren says:

    [i]Social Security is like any other pension fund[/i]

    Where in the world did you read that? Like #5 said, it is a ponzi scheme, bigger than anything Bernie Maddoff or anyone else could get away with. It was flawed from the start and has only been made worse since.

  9. Teatime2 says:

    #8 — Please tell us how only Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” that draws conservative wrath while conservatives in my state can set up the “Teacher Retirement System,” require public school teachers to pay into it, and laud that program as being a great retirement plan for teachers when, in truth, it’s horrid? Methinks that, in truth, a “Ponzi scheme” is what the cons say it is and nothing more.

  10. Capt. Father Warren says:

    #9, I know nothing of your teacher system, whether it is horrid or not. But Social Security is a well-known ponzi scheme. A relatively few people paid a little money initially and later people paid more money for longer to pay the initial benefits. Benefits have been raised faster than inflation, later contributing folks have to pay even more and even longer. New benefits were added to the origianal benefits. Young people paying into the system will likely never see a dime or very little. Hence, it is a Ponzi Scheme,,,,,,,the late investors getting sheared to pay off the early investers. That is not a pension system.

  11. jkc1945 says:

    Whether Social Security fits the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme, or not, I really must confess I do not know; I believe that it is such a scheme. But whether it fits or not, I know one thing for sure about Social Security: unless huge and punishing changes are made to it in the not-foo-distant future, it will go broke. . . period. So whether it fits the definition of a Ponzi scheme or not is irrelevant to me. It is a system that takes more and more from more and more people, and eventually pays fewer and fewer people what they thought they had coming, until eventually it pays no one anything, because there is nothing left to use to pay them. Call it anything we wish, it is a sinful system.