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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Medicare and Social Security update: Obama votes "Present"

A few posts down, we discussed the heroic efforts of Progressives United (Russ Feingold's organization) to make sure Medicare and Social Security don't face the chopping block -- again. I suggested calling the Obama campaign and telling them "Not one dime unless the president pledges to save Medicare and Social Security." One reader did just that.
I called the Obama campaign. They said they couldn't find the President's position on that. I told them, politely, that until they made clear an unequivocal stand that any cuts in Medicare and SS benefits would be vetoed by the President, I couldn't open up my wallet the way I did in 2008. They said they'd work on getting a position up. I'm not holding my breath.
He doesn't have a position on that?

He doesn't have a freakin' position on Medicare and Social Security?

Is it too much to ask that a Democratic president take a position on such a fundamentally Democratic issue? Does Obama want his spinelessness to become an issue in 2012?
Bravo, you and reader.
Good Grief! That's a major revelation.
Why am I not surprised?
"Protecting" or "saving" these programs is a bit different from preventing any cuts or changes to them.

In fact, saving Medicare must involve significant savings, as in the already enacted into law health care reform savings of $500 billion out of the future growth in Medicare costs.

Even Clinton 'cut' Medicare expenditures (meaning reductions in outyear increases, which the Clinton administration itself CALLED cuts).

I think Nixon's old economic advisor, Herb Stein, coined the observation that if things cannot go on like they are, they won't. The very definition of that is the annualized increases in Medicare expenditure, double the rate of regular inflation, that will see that part of government spending grow to crowd out ALL OTHER federal spending, if its double digit annual increases continue on pace. Which they cannot, so they won't.

We do the country no favors by pretending no changes must be made (at least in Medicare), and that those changes will amount to cuts in future benefit costs, and/or additional costs to future beneficiaries for the same benefit levels.

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