Boehner Wants CUTS to Social Security and Medicare, not “Changes”

From Dean Baker at CEPR

For some reason the Washington Post has a hard time accurately reporting the nature of the budget discussions between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. It told readers today:

“In exchange for the higher rates for millionaires, Boehner is demanding changes to federal health and retirement programs, which are projected to be the biggest drivers of future federal borrowing.”

Of course Boehner is not looking for random “changes” to these programs, he is looking for “cuts” in the programs. While the next sentence points out that Boehner is seeking “savings” from these programs, there is no reason to obscure what is at issue by using “changes.”

It is also worth noting that under the law, Social Security cannot contribute to the deficit. It was set up by Congress as a stand alone program that can only spend money from its designated revenue stream. All official budget documents show the “on-budget” deficit which excludes revenue and spending from Social Security.

Interesting comments follow his posting as well, informative, not simply virulent….

Zombie Ideas Crawling Though the Mindscape

Krugman tries to shed a little light in a very dark place:

…right now the most dangerous zombie [idea] is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. Even some Democrats — including, according to reports, the president — have seemed susceptible to this argument. But it’s a cruel, foolish idea — cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare — and we shouldn’t let it eat our brains.

First of all, you need to understand that while life expectancy at birth has gone up a lot, that’s not relevant to this issue; what matters is life expectancy for those at or near retirement age.

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He would have done better to put out some actual numbers.  What was life expectancy at age 65 in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010? For how many? Seems like some simple numbers could be crunched to help us out.

Single Payer to the Rescue

“In 2009 when the Washington beltway was tied up with the health care reform tussle, Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the all powerful Senate Finance Committee, said everything was on the table–except for single payer. When doctors, nurses and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, Baucus had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, “We need more police.”

Yet when Senator Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in Libby, Montana, and surrounding Lincoln County, he turned to the nation’s single payer healthcare system, Medicare, to solve the problem.”

Read All —Stunning