The American economy and the social safety net that protects us all are on life support and fading fast. This much is certain and evident from the amount of deficit spending being incurred in Washington (1.6 Trillion budget deficit for 2012 with National debt exceeding 14 Trillion dollars). The analogy to a sick patient is apt and fitting in that much of the future economic health of our nation is intimately tied to the healthcare entitlements of Medicare and Medicaid as well as to the Obama Healthcare plan.
Schwach does a good job of presenting the “progressive” side of the issue without bothering to do sufficient fact checking. Facts that might alter his perspective on this pressing and timely issue which will, by definition, affect us all. From my perspective, statements like: “Tax the old and the poor to subsidize the rich. That is what the Republicans and the Tea Party are all about.” do little to advance the actual education of the public on these matters but do much to push the debate into the familiar class warfare mode that leads to resentment, false assumptions and little progress on the actual issues.
To start, the “poor” are not taxed under our current federal tax structure. In fact, according to the National Taxpayer’s Union (a non-partisan organization) the top half of earners in this country pay 97.3% of all federal taxes. If one is “poor” in the U.S., one qualifies for benefits that include housing, food and healthcare (education, of course, is free for all Americans). Secondly, it appears that Mr. Schwach forgets that our nation follows the model of an aspirational society, one in which a static class structure is a myth often repeated by the Left to advance their own political agenda. Our own President’s compelling life story is a vivid example of how our society allows the dynamic mobility of an individual from a modest socio-economic background, with no inherent advantages, to the top levels of social, economic and political spheres.
All within one generation!
According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare is set to go insolvent in 2017. Social Security is set to go insolvent by 2037. That means, without doing a thing to these social programs, they will inevitably become bankrupt. The President has attempted to address these issues with the implementation of his Healthcare bill. The numerous flaws in this program are already becoming apparent with the hundreds of company waivers necessary to keep the program running and the exploding bureaucracy being developed as it unfolds. The inherent flaw is the attempt to introduce a massive entitlement program within the framework of a free market economy. Two systems inherently at odds. Ironically, the failure of the same type of program is exactly what is being used against the top Republican contender for President in 2012, Mitt Romney, who proposed a similar “money saving” healthcare program in Massachusetts which is now mired in out of control spending costs and bureaucratic failure.
The Ryan proposal does not double the share of Medicare spending by seniors, it actually keeps the same level of spending for seniors (about $15,000 per year) but allows them to choose from a private healthcare plan. It introduces the concept of competition into the equation. This is not unfamiliar in that many of America’s seniors have already enrolled in such plans under the Medicare Advantage programs. Instead of Medicare, they receive Oxford Medicare or Humana Medicare for instance. What’s more, this plan does not affect today’s seniors but those who will enter their senior years during the period that these programs are scheduled to go insolvent if left without fixing. Unfortunately, I myself do not count on receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits in my old age as the programs stand today, the numbers simply do not lie. The Ryan plan also allows for additional funds for those seniors who fall below certain income guidelines. Again, the alternative is for insolvency in 6 years (2017). Schwach criticizes the Ryan plan in regards to altering the way Medicaid is paid out. We all know that something is wrong with Medicaid in New York. Governor Cuomo says so as well. We spend over 15 billion more on Medicaid in New York than California does. California has twice our population and is not known for its fiscal austerity. Block grants for Medicaid will trim the excess fat from the system and allow the nation to get back on a course to true financial accountability. If we think we can continue on the current course, just take a moment to look up what happens when our treasuries and bonds are downgraded by economic evaluators like Standard and Poor’s, due to out of control spending. It’s the same thing that happens to restaurants that get a failing Health Inspector grade. It’s what happened in Greece and Portugal and Spain. What good does it do our seniors to devalue the currency and their life savings? Inflation follows and what money seniors have saved for old age, decreases in value.
Schwach gives much column space to the “donut-hole” subsidies under the current Healthcare Plan. Unfortunately, this is borrowed money from countries like China who do not have our best interests in mind. As I stated earlier, it does not help seniors to offer donut-hole coverage while forcing them to cash in a bank CD just to fill up the gas tank and pay for out of control inflationary costs of goods and services. By allowing the free markets to create competition in healthcare, such subsidies could easily be made unnecessary by the inherent decrease in healthcare costs attained from competition, tort law reform and the elimination of massive healthcare bureaucracy. The alternative, is to continue on our present course and hope that we can get by on eating Munchkins instead of Donuts.
DR. HAROLD PAEZ