September 12, 2013 by David K. Sutton
The Public Is Obtuse On Medicare Spending, While Conservative ‘Leaders’ Bank On This Ignorance
There are conservatives who believe government is incapable of doing anything meaningful. They believe the only true purpose of government is national security. And these conservatives believe programs like Medicare are saddled with massive fraud and waste. And there are conservatives who are on Medicare that hold these beliefs while gobbling up more Medicare services than they paid for. But because they are conservatives, that means they abhor welfare, and would never be caught getting a free handout. And they believe this of themselves because they are ignorant to the fact that Medicare pays $3 in benefits for every $1 it takes in.
Mother Jones — The best estimate out there suggests that a single male will pay $60,000 in Medicare taxes over his lifetime and receive $170,000 in benefits during retirement. That’s a 3:1 benefit ratio—and the numbers are more favorable for women and way more favorable for couples. Medicare is just about the most amazing bargain imaginable. Most of us don’t come within a country mile of actually paying for all the care we get.
Of course this could be the basis of a conservative argument against Medicare, that it’s unsustainable. Yet we’ve found a way to sustain it in the past. And yes, that sometimes means a tax increase. If we like a service, and we want to continue to utilize it, we must pay for it.
What this shows, once again, is the power of right-wing ideas in American discourse. After years of misleading the public about death panels and waste and taxes, the public pretty much believes it. Medicare isn’t welfare; we paid for it! Costs aren’t rising because we all insist on the latest and greatest treatments even if they don’t work; it’s lousy management! Welcome to conservo-land.
Conservatives love to distort the facts. Conservative pundits and politicians like to pit their constituents against the “other.” Because it’s much easier to blame someone else instead of trying to figure out what the problem is and offering a real solution. — Someone else is wasting taxpayer dollars. Someone else is mooching off the system. Someone else is committing fraud and that’s why this service I cherish is too expensive. — Conservatives are so against tax increases, they use a boogeyman as cover. They blame someone else for the deficit instead of looking in the mirror.
And I don’t blame people for using Medicare or other government services they’ve paid into. They just need to stop blaming others for the problem they’ve helped create.
And before we get too worked up over Medicare’s deficit, it’s in no worse shape then it has been through much of it’s history, with an insolvency projection of 11 years (12 years is the average).