The following are excerpts from a Huff Post Business Blog. You can read the entire post by clicking on the title link.
To my way of thinking it is a real shame that dribble like this gets any press at all. It is misleading, inaccurate and serves to reinforce the mindset that we can indeed have it all without worrying about the cost.
The author of this article fails to tells us why corporate honchos want large cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. More important, no one is suggesting large cuts in those programs. The idea that the problems faced by both Social Security and Medicare are caused only by the economic collapse is nonsense. Just read the Trustees Reports for a clear picture of the issues. While it is true the economy has resulted in lower payroll taxes into the systems, that is not the essence of the problem. If anyone thinks that more payroll tax revenue because of more employment alone will solve the problems they are wrong. If they think simply raising the payroll tax will do the job without giving the middle class a good slap upside the head they are wrong. Throwing more money at systems that indeed need some fundamental structural changes is like making more grants to solar panel firms or battery makers that cannot compete on their own or there is insufficient market for their products: wait that’s a bad example we already do that.
The problem with Social Security is that there are fewer and fewer workers to support the benefits being received, that is a demographic problem that will not go away. The problem with Medicare is similar, more and more Americans collecting benefits, an aging population and health care costs still growing more than twice general inflation. As the economy improves there will be greater not lesser demand for health care with more spending.
We have put in place more and more programs whose costs are on automatic pilot meaning they are not reviewed each year for affordability but rather simply rise in cost each year. The latest such venture is Obamacare where millions of Americans using the new health insurance exchanges will receive subsides for both premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Does anyone reasonably believe that the government subsidies will not grow each year at a pace necessary to keep this health care “affordable” to participants regardless of what that rate of increase may be or that at some point the subsidy will be deemed insufficient by some politician and then increased? Just look at the history of every major entitlement we have. We put in place controls, limits, checks and balances and then ignore them. Looking for examples; how about the student loan interest rate, the Medicare scheduled physician fee cuts, the one year cut in payroll taxes, the performance bonuses for four and five-star Medicare Advantage plans that are now being given to three star performers. Remember the first year there was no Social Security COLA because of low inflation; the President wanted to make lump sum payments to beneficiaries anyway and some in Congress wanted to grant a COLA regardless of the law.
The point is not whether these programs are good or bad, the point is that they were put in place with a set of criteria that were ignored or changed when it came time for implementation and without regard to affordability.
Pundits like to quote the projections of the CBO and other government organizations about deficit savings over the next ten years as the result of such things as Obamacare. What they fail to tell you is that all these projections have significant caveats. For example, both the Medicare Actuary and the CBO question the ability for all the cost-control items within Obamacare to actually work or be left in place by Congress. The Actuary raises a real concern about the ability of health care providers to offset coming fee cuts with increased productivity and suggests that many hospitals will be unable to survive.
Will the world collapse if fixing the fiscal cliff is not done by December 31; happily no. However, the fiscal cliff is not an invention and the problem with deeming every fiscal issue not an urgency is that we keep postponing the necessary corrective action until urgency becomes emergency.
The National Debt and Our Children: How Dumb Does Washington Think We Are?
Reporters covering this election deserve nothing but contempt from the public. It is their job to highlight the issues that will matter to people’s lives, not to help push the agenda of corporate America.
While much of the country is focused on the presidential race, the Wall Street gang is waging a different battle; they are preparing an assault on Social Security and Medicare…
The corporate honchos are not expecting to convince the public that we should support cuts to Social Security and Medicare. They know this is a hopeless task. Huge majorities of people across the political spectrum strongly support these programs.
Instead they hope that they can use their power of persuasion, coupled with the power of campaign contributions and the power of high-paying jobs for defeated members of Congress, to get Congress to approve large cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other key programs…
Most of the media have been happy to cooperate with the corporate chieftains in this plan. There are two main ways in which they have abandoned objectivity to support the plan for cutting Social Security and Medicare…
The whole notion of a “fiscal cliff” is an invention that implies an urgency that does not exist. There is almost no consequence to not having a deal in place by the end of 2012. The dire projections of recession and rising unemployment assume that we don’t ever get a deal on the budget…
The fixation on the debt certainly cannot be justified by any objective standard…
Furthermore, it is easy to show that the large budget deficits of recent years are entirely the result of the economic collapse. If the economy were back near full employment, the deficits would be relatively small as was the case before the collapse. Yet it is the deficits and debt that dominate news reporting and debate questions, not the overall state of the economy…
As long as we are talking about spending and the deficit how about the Presidents $5 billion in taxpayer money behind his goal of having 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015. Electric vehicle sales since 2011 totaled fewer than 50,000 through September, just 5 percent of the president’s target.
- Dean Baker: The National Debt and Our Children: How Dumb Does Washington Think We Are? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Forget the 1% you should be worrying about the 2% (payroll tax) (quinnscommentary.com)
- The fiscal cliff… and fools (milesfranklin.com)