Bush’s Tax Cuts and War in Iraq Broke Us, So Let’s Cut Medicare!
I cannot believe that Democrats are even considering raising the eligibility age for Medicare as part of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.
First off, $15bn a year is hardly significant savings, and that’s what you save (at a maximum – some argue it’s significantly less) when you raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67: a whopping $15bn a year.
You know how much George Bush’s little venture in Iraq has been costing us per year? In FY 2011, $46 billion. That’s three times the savings from cutting Medicare.
And in Afghanistan, we’re spending $88.5bn in FY 2013, that’s nearly six times the savings we’re getting from gutting Medicare.
And overall, the damn war is going to cost us $3 trillion, according to Joe Stiglitz. $3 trillion for George Bush’s lie. (And in fact, Stiglitz has now upped the estimate to $5 trillion.) But let’s cut all of our Medicare coverage for two years in order to pay for the Republican party’s lie of the decade, along with their other lie of the decade, Bush’s tax cuts, that supposedly were going to pay for themselves.
The tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined eat up the lion’s share of the deficit over the coming years. (See the chart to the right.) So let’s cuts Medicare instead!
Just to be clear, those tax cuts and Bush’s little wars are going to be paid for by cutting your and my Medicare coverage.
You don’t see John McCain and Lindsey Graham calling for any hearings on why were lied to about any of those subjects, do you?
How Do We Know Obamacare Will Take Up Medicare’s Slack When We Don’t Even Know What Obamacare Will Do Next Year?
As for the argument that Obamacare will protect us when we hit 65 and need health care that otherwise would have been covered by Medicare… maybe. The thing is, Obamacare hasn’t even been implemented yet. No one can tell us for sure if we’re going to be paying less for our premiums next year under Obamacare, let alone when we’re 65. Sure, they “think” it’ll be less. But they don’t know. But they’ll still willing to cut all of our access to Medicare for two yours on the promise – read: hope – that Obamacare “might” provide an affordable alternative. But it might not.
But a side effect of raising the Medicare retirement age would be that a large cohort of 65- and 66-year-olds would suddenly find themselves needing the Affordable Care Act to buy their health insurance. Which is to say, Republicans attacking the Affordable Care Act would no longer be attacking the usual band of very poor or desperate people they can afford to ignore but a significant chunk of middle-class voters who have grown accustomed to the assumption that they will be able to afford health care. Strengthening the political coalition for universal coverage seems like a helpful side benefit — possibly even one conservatives come to regret, and liberals, to feel relief they accepted.
Where Exactly Are People Supposed to Come Up With the Money to Afford Private Health Insurance at 65 and 66?
And what exactly is “affordable” when you’re talking about health insurance for someone who’s 65 years old?
And how much more will we be paying for health coverage at that age under Obamacare than we would have been paying under Medicare?
I’m paying nearly $6,000 a year as it is for my health insurance, and I’m not even near 65 (yet). At one point, my rates were doubling every three years. Is it crazy to worry that they might triple in the next 15? They tripled on me in less time than that. So what am I going to be paying at 65 and 66? $20,000 a year? $30,000 a year? And mind you, we’ll be paying for two years – ages 65 and 66 – so are we going to be paying $40,000 or $60,000 to cover the two-year wasteland that people are now proposing?
What I see happening is a lot of people continuing to work past the age of 65 just so they’ll have health insurance until they’re 67, since they have no idea what Medicare covers anyway (I just went to the Medicare Web site, and it confused the hell out of me). But of course, as Karoli points out, good luck keeping your job until 65, let alone 67:
Workforce phase-outs of older employees - This is the dirty little elephant in the middle of the room that no one talks about. Because of the high demand for jobs right now, older employees are beingshoved phased out earlier. Beginning at around age 50 to 55, jobs become scarce for older workers, leaving them with a 10-15 year gap before they become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. That means they’re living on their savings, home equity, or odd jobs just to scratch their way to the social safety net. Moving that football means leaving them on the hook for 2 extra years, not only for living expenses, but also covering their health insurance, whether or not subsidized.
I was talking to one of my neighbors the other day who was telling me his mother continued working until she was 70 so that they would have good health insurance to cover his dad’s lingering illness, as they weren’t convinced that Medicare was going to be good enough to keep dad alive. Now that his father has passed away, mom can finally retire. Why should anyone “have” to work to 70 in order to guarantee that their spouse can live?
And contrary to what Senate Republican health care “experts” are saying on TV these days, Medicare is not something “we don’t absolutely need.” Where exactly are people supposed to go for health insurance if they don’t have Medicare? Blue Cross? That’ll be fun.
Let the Republicans Pay For Their Own Damn Mess
We are talking about saving a measly $15bn a year by cutting two years of Medicare coverage from all Americans. That’s 1/3 of what we were paying just in FY2011 for the war in Iraq. We could have saved Medicare, and a lot of other programs, had the Republicans not lied to Americans about the cost of tax cuts and the need for war.
Republican lies got us into this mess, let them cut their own damn programs to get us out. And let them start with Congress’ own cushy health care plan.