In a “Fact of the Day” article last November, I wrote that, “eliminating the [Social Security] wage cap while keeping the benefits cap produces a Social Security surplus.” But you don’t have to take my word for it as this is a fact backed up by the Congressional Research Service. But it’s also just common sense. If you lift the revenue limiter (the wage cap) but you pay out the same benefits, obviously Social Security will be solvent for some time to come.
On Friday we learned of a rumor that a possible “fiscal cliff” deal was emerging behind closed doors. The deal would raise the top tax rate to from 35 to 37% (not 39.6%) in exchange for the Medicare eligibility age rising from 65 to 67. Let me go on the record and say I think this is a bad deal. Not only does the top tax rate not return to pre-“Bush tax cut” level, but in the bargain we throw seniors under the bus.
Since 1965, the United States of America has experimented with a crazy, evil and potentially nation-destroying idea of universal health care. See, that was the year congress enacted Medicare under the Social Security Act. Medicare is a government-run universal health care insurance program for people 65 and older, as well as younger people with disabilities. This program is so bad for America that it polls at greater than 80% and it’s helped lift millions of senior citizens out of poverty and give them the peace of mind of knowing they have access to health care in their advancing years. What a horrible idea!
House Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says electing Mitt Romney this fall means Republicans have a ‘mandate’ to overhaul Medicare. As McCarthy put it, “If there’s a mandate going through this election, it’s to save Medicare.” As I put it: When Republicans say “save Medicare” they mean end Medicare as we know it. They would keep a government program called Medicare but it would not be the Medicare that has existed for almost half a century. The Republican plan for Medicare is to turn it into a program designed to shortchange seniors while increasing profits for private insurance companies.
There is no question Medicare needs fixing. The biggest problem with Medicare is that it is a high-risk pool. Insurance will be expensive per person when the only people in the insurance risk pool are 65 and older or disabled. That makes it fairly remarkable that Medicare has managed to survive for as long as it has. The reason it has survived is because of a vast supply of political will and public support. But sooner or later we are going to have to address the root issue, high risk. All insurance works by having diversified risk whether it’s car insurance or health insurance. Therefore, diversifying the risk pool when it comes to Medicare means extending it to all Americans, or ‘Medicare for all’. Having one insurance payer makes the financing of health care simpler and more efficient. Removing profits from the financing side of health care means nobody is deciding what is and isn’t covered based on shareholder sentiment and CEO bonuses. Removing profits means less overhead, hence less costly health care. Fixing health care in this country means extending the same coverage your grandparents have to all Americans.