Preserving Medicare, a Matter of Arithmetic

May 14th, 2011 | By | 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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