Preserving Medicare, a Matter of Arithmetic

May 14th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Paul Krugman wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times on May 12 that is hard to argue with.  His logic just makes sense.
Freshmen congressmen/women’s attempts to dismantle Medicare will backfire on them.  This is a summary of Krugman’s points:

  • Services for senior citizens (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) constitute the greatest bulk of federal spending after defense and interest paid on loans;
  • A lot more people are now relying on social insurance programs; in 2007, there were 20.9 Americans 65 and older for every 100 Americans between the ages of 20 and 64; by 2020, the Social Security Administration expects that number to rise to 27.5, and to 31.7 by 2025. 
  • The Baby Boomers are retiring now, and they will likely continue to exercise their rights to vote in local, state and federal elections.
  • So with an aging population and rising health costs, continuing anything like the programs for seniors we now have will require a significant increase in spending on these programs as a percentage of G.D.P. And unless we offset that rise with drastic cuts in defense spending, this means a substantial rise in overall spending, which we can afford only if taxes rise.  (It’s a matter of arithmetic.)
  • Senior voters support candidates who promise to leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid intact; just take a look at the past decade and how seniors swung, depending upon what we were promised.
  • Taxes have to increase to pay for increasing numbers of senior citizens who qualify for Social Security and Medicare and/or Medicaid.

Any rigid anti-tax position is the enemy of the senior-oriented programs that account for much of federal spending.  Krugman says, “And that’s something voters ought to know.”  SCJ agrees.



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  1. [...] could be assured for Baby Boomers and those reaching their senior years with one simple change:  Lift the employer payroll tax limit (Now at $108K) so that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.  That single move alone would [...]

  2. [...] straight.  We senior citizens are expected to cave in to demands to increase the retirement age, lose some Medicare benefits and look forward to changes in both Medicare and Social Security that could impact our very [...]

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