Medicare is indeed in dire need of reform. Representative Paul Ryan’s plan for reform, however, has some fatal flaws, the most serious of which is pointed out by David Leonhardt (of the New York Times):
It asks for a whole lot of sacrifice from everyone under the age of 55 and little from everyone 55 and over.
Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the plan, calls the budget deficit an “existential threat” to the United States. Then inexplicably he completely absolves more than one-third of all adults from responsibility in dealing with that threat.
Ryan wants to force everyone under 55 into a separate program, in which they get a subsidy toward buying private health insurance, while exempting more than a third of adults from doing the same.
Okay, has that sunk in just yet?
The 55 & up crowd, a generation who played an active role in the current financial crisis (decisions from all sides of the spectrum, going back decades led to this mess) gets all of the benefits but the younger generations get to foot the bill because “we need to address this debt for the sake of our children” (a group otherwise known as the one picking up the tab).
In other words, we made this mess then we run around & scream at the top of our lungs that we must do something to save the future of our children. Then we set a plan in place that forces that generation, the one who DIDN’T make this mess, to carry the burden of straightening it all up while we exempt ourselves from any such unpleasantries.
Ain’t that a crock of shit?
Additionally, Washington seems to labor under the mistaken belief “that older people have already paid for their Medicare benefits”.
They haven’t. Not even close!
Instead, most receive hundreds of thousands more in benefits than they paid in Medicare taxes—money the government borrows and promises to payback later.
“Who are these future taxpayers who will kindly cover Medicare’s shortfall? The same ones who, under the Ryan plan, won’t have Medicare for themselves.”
Talk about a swift kick in the junk.
As bad as that is, that isn’t even the shadiest part of this whole deal!
It is not a coincidence that those above 55 are not only the backbone of the Tea Party but also the most secure votes for the Republican Party. Not only that but there are important demographic differences between older folks and younger ones according to new Census data.
The single largest increase was among Hispanics, whose birthrates are far above those of non-Hispanic whites, largely because the white population is aging and proportionally has fewer women in their child-bearing years. The median age of whites is 41, compared with 27 for Hispanics, the report said.
As a result, America’s future will include a far more diverse young population, and a largely white older generation.
This sets up a volatile dynamic for this debate.
This younger diverse population is being asked to sacrifice for the older white one. Investing in education and infrastructure asks the older white population to sacrifice for the younger diverse one.
So if we are “doing this to leave a better future for our children” as has been advertised, the choice is easy…we invest in education, infrastructure and other programs, yet those are the exact programs Ryan and the GOP are trying to either cut or completely eliminate from the budget.
This is the fundamental choice that lies before us in the months ahead.
Now we will see who chooses to nut up & who chooses to shut up when it comes to this whole “we need to ensure a better future for our children” argument that keeps being used by the Paul Ryan’s of the world.
They need to spare me their lip service on this one because, as always, actions speak louder than words.