Friday, April 8, 2011

Pretzel Logic

So let me see if I've got this straight. The deficit is bad because it's "intergenerational theft." So for the sake of future generations, we must do something about the biggest source of future deficits: Medicare.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican who's chairman of the House Budget Committee, has a plan. Not so much a plan as a Path to Prosperity. Here is what we're going to do about Medicare:

If you're retired now, nothing.

If you're over 55, also nothing.

If you're under 55, keep paying those Medicare payroll taxes. Then, when you get to retirement age, you get a voucher allowing you to buy private insurance! Of course, since private insurers have higher administrative costs than Medicare, and pay doctors more, your voucher won't buy as much coverage as Medicare now does.

But really, the problem with Medicare is not so much what the government is paying now as what it will pay in the future. Health care costs have been rising faster than inflation for some time now, and the Congressional Budget Office projects they will continue to rise about 2% per year faster than inflation. The Ryan plan deals with this problem very simply. It indexes the value of the voucher to inflation.

Well, no, this doesn't actually do anything about rising health care costs. But it does shift them off the backs of future taxpayers. It shifts them onto the backs of... future retirees.

So here's what we're doing for future generations under the Ryan plan: They pay for current retirees. Then when they reach retirement age, they get a medical benefits package that's worth substantially less than the package those people were getting, and still less with each passing year.

Not so much intergenerational theft as intergenerational rape.

And for those who are, or will qualify to be, in the old program, don't worry. Republicans believe in freedom of choice. You will be completely free to give up the better package and get the worse one.

Just don't get trampled in the stampede.

1 comment:

  1. Now I'm not sure anymore whether I should be relieved at turning 55 next week, or worried. OMG!