We are doomed and so are our future generations.
President Obama at today’s (7/11) press conference:
As for Social Security, which he acknowledged is not the source of any deficit problems, he basically said that, as long as we’re doing a big deal, we might as well throw that in. “The reason to include that in this package is, if you’re going to take a bunch of tough votes, you might as well do it now,” Obama said.
According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations — including both Republicans and Democrats — the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues.
The proposal, as discussed, would not go into effect immediately, but rather would be implemented down the road (likely in 2013). The age at which people would be eligible for Medicare benefits would be raised incrementally, not in one fell swoop.
A proposal to raise the eligibility age for Medicare — which was part of a budget plan put forth by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) — would face steep opposition from within the Democratic Party. The amount of money it would save is also relatively small, as the vast majority of Medicare funding is spent on more elderly populations. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if the Medicare eligibility age was increased from 65 to 67, the federal government would save $124.8 billion between 2014 and 2021.
Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal
That’s a truly cruel idea; as it happens, I know several people who are hanging on, postponing needed medical care, hoping that they can make it to 65 before something terrible happens. And if I know such people in my fairly sheltered social circles, just imagine how widespread such stories must be.
But beyond that, think about what it means to move people out of Medicare into private insurance, if they can get it.
Medicare has its problems – but all the evidence says that it is substantially more cost-effective than private insurance. Partly this is because it has lower administrative costs; partly it’s because Medicare is able to use its market power to negotiate lower prices. And the international evidence is overwhelming: single-payer systems are much cheaper than systems centered on private insurance.
So think of this as a national interest thing rather than a budget thing: Lieberman is proposing that we move a substantial number of older Americans into a worse, more expensive health care system. Why would you want to do such a thing, as opposed to raising enough additional revenue to keep them on Medicare?
Where is the outrage?