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AARP and the National Budget
Old 02-23-2011, 08:39 PM   #1
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AARP and the National Budget

Robert J. Samuelson, writing for this week's Newsweek publication, states:

"Power is the ability to get what you want. It suggests that you control events. By these standards, AARP runs the government budgetary policy, not presidents or congressional leaders. Obama says we must "win the future", but his budget (and so far, the Republicans too) would win the past and lose the future. The massive federal debt would keep growing because, without restraining spending on retirees, there's no path to a balanced budget."

Who Rules America? Retired People. - Newsweek#

Mr. Samuelson describes the current policies of medicare and social security as entitlements that are not in the public's best interest, and that political power continues to be forfeited to AARP in deference to national security (squeezing FBI funding) as well as college assistance funding. He says that "In the deficit crisis, we're held hostage by the senior lobby."

Wow. I always thought the NRA were more likely to hold hostages. Just cuz they could...they have guns and all.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:09 PM   #2
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I at first was surprised by the lack of response to this post. But then again it does leave one speechless.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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This is same old story for Robert Samuelson. He's been writing the same thing for years, so I guess I didn't respond because it's not news.

IMO he overstates the role of the AARP. Old people would vote with or without that group. But, yes, old people make up a seriously large interest group and they frequently vote their self interest.

I think that most people who are paying attention would agree that the long term budget gap has to include fixes for SS and Medicare. Medicare is the bigger problem, largely because official budget estimates assume per person spending on medical care will continue to grow faster than the CPI. IIRC, our federal deficit is smaller than the excess of the amount the US spends on medical care over what other rich countries spend on medical care. There have been lots of posts here with ideas about medical care, and Samuelson has written about that as well.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:12 PM   #4
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This is same old story for Robert Samuelson. He's been writing the same thing for years, so I guess I didn't respond because it's not news.

IMO he overstates the role of the AARP. Old people would vote with or without that group. But, yes, old people make up a seriously large interest group and they frequently vote their self interest.

I think that most people who are paying attention would agree that the long term budget gap has to include fixes for SS and Medicare. Medicare is the bigger problem, largely because official budget estimates assume per person spending on medical care will continue to grow faster than the CPI. IIRC, our federal deficit is smaller than the excess of the amount the US spends on medical care over what other rich countries spend on medical care. There have been lots of posts here with ideas about medical care, and Samuelson has written about that as well.
The problem is not Medicare. Focusing on Medicare is just one more divide and conquer tactic. The problem is overall society wide medical expenses. Most advanced countries do not segregate groups as to how their medical services are financed. In America we have at least 6 or 7 separate government medical bill paying classifications (Medicare, Medicaid, federal workers and federal retirees, military active duty, Tricare, VA, Indian Health Service, Bureau of Prisons, etc. Then there are many forms of private insurance on top of all this. It is absurd, but I am getting tired of hearing bitching about Medicare. If you are in your fifties, don't worry, you will soon be on Medicare, so you too will be in the cost cutters sights. Just recite, the problem isn't Medicare, it is overall failure of Medical cost control and service delivery. You will then be much closer to an accurate understanding.

Face it, of all the people on this board, likely only 10% could even begin to finance the medical costs of older years on a private pay basis, without moving to India or Upper Volta.

Everybody is more interested in his/her own problems than the problems of others. IMO, seniors compare favorably with other groups, for example unionized teachers. If any non-unionized group performed as poorly as public school teachers, few of them would still have their jobs.

Ha
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:28 PM   #5
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I think that most people who are paying attention would agree that the long term budget gap has to include fixes for SS and Medicare.
Watching CNN, I just saw a report on several polls asking what was more important -- balancing the budget or preventing cuts to SS, Medicare, Medicaid. Balancing the budget lost by a wide margin, about 2 to 1, in all the polls.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:42 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Independent;1041010]This is same old story for Robert Samuelson. He's been writing the same thing for years, so I guess I didn't respond because it's not news.


Thanks Independent. I don't recall reading anything of his before, so that's helpful to know.

I was actually more surprised at the aggressive tone of the article then the content. This is the first "Boomer Bashing" I've encountered, and the article seemed intent on trying to develop antagonistic feelings toward AARP specifically, and older adults in general.

Old people are a special interest group....but with open membership. You just need to live long enough to join.
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:54 PM   #7
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Watching CNN, I just saw a report on several polls asking what was more important -- balancing the budget or preventing cuts to SS, Medicare, Medicaid. Balancing the budget lost by a wide margin, about 2 to 1, in all the polls.
I bet if they polled Greek voters the results would be even more lopsided. However, Greeks have reacted strongly even violently to either benefit cuts or higher taxes and fees.

I figure the situation is Greece is a preview of coming attractions in the US. So I am watching it with interest.
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:13 AM   #8
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Watching CNN, I just saw a report on several polls asking what was more important -- balancing the budget or preventing cuts to SS, Medicare, Medicaid. Balancing the budget lost by a wide margin, about 2 to 1, in all the polls.
What was the demographic that was polled?

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Old 02-25-2011, 12:32 AM   #9
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this senior bashing is just BS. if you were to go back in history and remove SS (both the taxes and the benefits) from the US budget you would find 2 things. 1) seniors would be worse off and 2) there would be a larger national debt. SS has added surplus to the budget for quite some time (with the exception of last year).
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Old 02-25-2011, 01:55 AM   #10
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What was the demographic that was polled?
Sorry, I don't recall.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:00 AM   #11
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Sorry, I don't recall.
Thanks.

Ha
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:11 AM   #12
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The problem is not Medicare. Focusing on Medicare is just one more divide and conquer tactic. The problem is overall society wide medical expenses. Most advanced countries do not segregate groups as to how their medical services are financed. In America we have at least 6 or 7 separate government medical bill paying classifications ...
I'll agree with all of this, sorry if I left the opposite impression. My "best plan" for medical care in the US includes reducing the discrepancy between the old and everyone else.

However, when people look at the projected deficits, they are based on the system we have today, so Medicare jumps out as a fast growing program. Since it's very popular, it's a good example if you want to say that we can't balance the budget without making some changes to popular programs.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:46 AM   #13
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"Watching CNN, I just saw a report on several polls asking what was more important -- balancing the budget or preventing cuts to SS, Medicare, Medicaid. Balancing the budget lost by a wide margin, about 2 to 1, in all the polls.Watching CNN, I just saw a report on several polls asking what was more important -- balancing the budget or preventing cuts to SS, Medicare, Medicaid. Balancing the budget lost by a wide margin, about 2 to 1, in all the polls."

This just proves what we all know to be true. In general, people want things done only if it doesn't cost them anything. The reason Obamacare passed, in my opinion, is becasue everyone was deluded into thinking it was somehow cost-free...or at least the proverbial "someone else" will pay for it. Ditto for tackling the budget problems - as long as "someone else's" budget gets cut,no problem...
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:59 AM   #14
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I'll agree with all of this, sorry if I left the opposite impression. My "best plan" for medical care in the US includes reducing the discrepancy between the old and everyone else.

However, when people look at the projected deficits, they are based on the system we have today, so Medicare jumps out as a fast growing program. Since it's very popular, it's a good example if you want to say that we can't balance the budget without making some changes to popular programs.
I shouldn't have used the pronoun "you" I really meant "a person". As in "a person" should not single out Medicare...

This is just my private Anti-Defamation Cause. And I take it seriously. I hope my response did not seem harsh.

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Old 02-25-2011, 02:30 PM   #15
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The problem is not Medicare. Focusing on Medicare is just one more divide and conquer tactic. The problem is overall society wide medical expenses. Most advanced countries do not segregate groups as to how their medical services are financed. In America we have at least 6 or 7 separate government medical bill paying classifications (Medicare, Medicaid, federal workers and federal retirees, military active duty, Tricare, VA, Indian Health Service, Bureau of Prisons, etc. Then there are many forms of private insurance on top of all this. It is absurd, but I am getting tired of hearing bitching about Medicare. If you are in your fifties, don't worry, you will soon be on Medicare, so you too will be in the cost cutters sights. Just recite, the problem isn't Medicare, it is overall failure of Medical cost control and service delivery. You will then be much closer to an accurate understanding.

Face it, of all the people on this board, likely only 10% could even begin to finance the medical costs of older years on a private pay basis, without moving to India or Upper Volta.

Everybody is more interested in his/her own problems than the problems of others. IMO, seniors compare favorably with other groups, for example unionized teachers. If any non-unionized group performed as poorly as public school teachers, few of them would still have their jobs.

Ha
I agree with you Ha. The US has just about the highest cost per person for medical care among advanced countries. Plus we have a system that leaves many without access to affordable insurance or health care. Cost is the biggest problem. How the US segregates groups for coverage is illogical, inefficient and full of fraud and abuse. Our elected leaders (on both sides) are posturing and fighting over health care reform without focusing on the cost issue. Politics at its worst - lots of caterwauling but little intelligent discussion.
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Old 02-25-2011, 03:51 PM   #16
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The US has just about the highest cost per person for medical care among advanced countries. Plus we have a system that leaves many without access to affordable insurance or health care. Cost is the biggest problem.
I don't agree with that. Cost is not the biggest problem -- lack of access is the biggest problem. We are a rich society. We could pay for health care for everyone if we chose. That we let people sicken and die for want of care or let families be financially ruined by medical bills is not to our credit.
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:47 PM   #17
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I don't agree with that. Cost is not the biggest problem -- lack of access is the biggest problem. We are a rich society. We could pay for health care for everyone if we chose. That we let people sicken and die for want of care or let families be financially ruined by medical bills is not to our credit.
I'm a big believer in access. If costs are controlled, I think our ability to provide access to more people will be much improved. It's the accountant in me. Reduce the cost per person and many more people can be covered. I'm not talking about reducing costs with inferior care. I'm talking about reducing costs by removing inefficiencies in the system. The reality is we pay more per person while not providing adequate access.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:00 PM   #18
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Reduce the cost per person and many more people can be covered.
Well, sure. But do we wait until the cost is reduced to cover everyone? What if we can't get those costs down? What happens then? Tough on you people without enough resources to pay. Sorry that we couldn't contain our costs sufficiently, soon enough, so we hope your families will please accept our condolences.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:25 PM   #19
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Well, sure. But do we wait until the cost is reduced to cover everyone? What if we can't get those costs down? What happens then? Tough on you people without enough resources to pay. Sorry that we couldn't contain our costs sufficiently, soon enough, so we hope your families will please accept our condolences.
We're on the same page GregLee. IMHO, reducing costs will get us there more quickly. The reality is we pay more per person for health care and don't cover those in desperate need. I believe part of the reason for this sad situation is our inefficient health care system.

We also have the political realities to deal with. The battles on Capitol Hill focus on the cost of providing coverage. Bringing the cost down will make decent health care coverage for all Americans more of an attainable goal. A goal I hope to see realized in my lifetime.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:48 PM   #20
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Social Security and Medicare Projections: 2009 | Publications | National Center for Policy Analysis | NCPA

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The 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports show the combined unfunded liability of these two programs has reached nearly $107 trillion in today's dollars!

The unfunded liability is the difference between the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees and what will be collected in dedicated taxes and Medicare premiums.
General revenue transfers to social security & medicare will double by 2020, then almost double again in 2030.

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By 2020, in addition to payroll taxes and premiums, Social Security and Medicare will require more than one in four federal income tax dollars.
By 2030, about the midpoint of the baby boomer retirement years, the programs will require nearly half of all income tax dollars.
I expect the government to cut benefits by taxing 100% of social security benefits except for the very poor & rapidly increase part B premiums except for the very poor.
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