Unfortunately, they’re also Democratic budget ideas.
Seniors, Guns and Money
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times
Published: May 12, 2011
(T)he truth is that older Americans really should fear Republican budget ideas – and not just because of that plan to dismantle Medicare. Given the realities of the federal budget, a party insisting that tax increases of any kind are off the table – as John Boehner, the speaker of the House, says they are – is, necessarily, a party demanding savage cuts in programs that serve older Americans.
The great bulk of federal spending that isn’t either defense-related or interest on the debt goes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The first two programs specifically serve seniors. And while Medicaid is often thought of as a poverty program, these days it’s largely about providing nursing care, with about two-thirds of its spending now going to the elderly and/or disabled. By my rough count, in 2007, seniors accounted, one way or another, for about half of federal spending.
Between an aging population and rising health costs, then, preserving 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 – which Republicans, needless to say, oppose – this means a substantial rise in overall spending, which we can afford only if taxes rise.
Which brings me back to those Republican freshmen. Last year, older voters, who split their vote almost evenly between the parties in 2008, swung overwhelmingly to the G.O.P., as Republicans posed successfully as defenders of Medicare. Now Democrats are pointing out that the G.O.P., far from defending Medicare, is actually trying to dismantle the program. So you can see why those Republican freshmen are nervous.