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Grandma's Benefits Imperil Junior's Future

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Commitments made to seniors decades ago failed to foresee the harsh economic realities of the present. Do entitlements saddle our children with unmanageable debt, asking them to sacrifice their future for the sake of the elderly? Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were created to provide a social safety net. But if we cut these programs, are we balancing the budget on the backs of the aged and sick, leaving behind society'€™s most vulnerable?

For the Motion

If we keep raising successive generations’ lifetime net tax rates, we will eventually be hitting up our progeny for every penny they earn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Laurence Kotlikoff

Add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect—the difference is $211 trillion.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Future battles over government spending and budget deficits may include a divisive fight between generations over who should pick up the tab for baby boomer retirement and medical expenses.

Monday, April 18, 2011
Philip Moeller

If one considers the unfunded liabilities of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, the true national debt could run as high as $119.5 trillion.

Monday, March 28, 2011
Michael D. Tanner

Spending on the government’s three main entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—is projected to rise significantly in coming decades. If left unaddressed, these increases put the government’s budget and the American economy at risk.

Friday, August 1, 2008
Andrew G. Biggs

Isabel Sawhill and Greg Anrig of the Century Foundation debate whether progressives should embrace entitlement reform or look elsewhere to narrow the fiscal gap.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Isabel V. Sawhill
Against the Motion

The blame for the federal government’s fiscal condition is routinely assigned to “entitlements”—the nation’s three major social-insurance programs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. But that accusation is misleading on several levels.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Greg Anrig

Both legislators and media mavens argue that cutting into the social safety net is not merely necessary to reduce the deficit, but that it is inevitable. This fails to hold up—mathematically, morally, and politically.

Friday, February 18, 2011
A Moral Assessment of the Attack on Social Safety Nets Amitai Etzioni
Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Comments by Dean Baker

Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

Monday, June 28, 2010
Kathy Ruffing and James Horney

With Americans facing 401(k) balances that have dropped by 30% or more, scheduled Social Security benefit cuts, and rising medical expenses, the focus should be on whether we are devoting enough resources to social insurance programs, not too many.

Friday, February 20, 2009
Monique Morrissey

The House of Representatives' budget, which would cut Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, foreign food aid, health-care reform, and unemployment benefits -- while sparing military spending and giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations and individuals -- would be a moral disaster for every American.

Friday, July 1, 2011
Elizabeth Palmberg

The public’s desire for fundamental change does not mean it supports reductions in the benefits provided by Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Relatively few are willing to see benefit cuts as part of the solution, regardless of whether the problem being addressed is the federal budget deficit, state budget shortfalls or the financial viability of the entitlement programs.

Thursday, July 7, 2011
Pew Research Center

Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes, yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicare and Social Security.

Thursday, January 20, 2011
Jackie Calmes and Dalia Sussman
Congressional Budget Office
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Director's Blog: and Social Security Bridget Murray-Law
Social Security

An overview of the current fight over Social Security, relating the history and context of this debate.

Thursday, April 7, 2011
Emily Kaiser

There are only three real solutions to Social Security's rapidly approaching fiscal problems: raise taxes, reduce spending, or make the current payroll taxes work harder by investing them through some form of personal retirement account (PRA). Establishing PRAs is the only solution that will give future retirees the option to receive an improved standard of living in retirement.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
David John

Because today’s retirees enjoy longer lives and better health, both Social Security retirement ages (“normal” and “early eligibility”) must be increased.

Monday, November 22, 2010
David John

The Economic Policy Institute addresses the skepticism and lack of interest and understanding with this comprehensive guide to Social Security—written by young authors for young people.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

Rick Perry’s stated views on Social Security, which he has called unconstitutional and a "Ponzi scheme,” are effective in political terms and even defensible on the merits.

Thursday, September 8, 2011
E.G. Austin

The entire population of working Americans has already been subscribed to Social Security for decades, yet the system continues to pay out benefits on time. That is because the actuarial calculations underlying its revenues and benefits are sound.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Social Security and Ponzi schemes are not perfectly analogous. Ponzi had to rely on what people were willing to voluntarily invest with him. Once he couldn’t convince enough new investors to join his scheme, it collapsed. Social Security, on the other hand, can rely on the power of the government to tax.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Michael D. Tanner

Social Security is not a dire liability on the federal balance sheet nor is it in any imminent danger of insolvency. Relatively modest tweaks to the program’s financing will further strengthen the system for generations to come.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Tamara Draut & Robert Hiltonsmith
Medicare & Medicaid

Experts debate Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to end traditional Medicare and replace it with a “premium support” plan where beneficiaries would choose a private insurer and the government would provide subsidies to pay the premiums.

Monday, April 4, 2011
Room for Debate

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act represents the most significant transformation of the American health care system since Medicare and Medicaid. The more we have learned about what is in this new law, the more it looks like bad news for American taxpayers, businesses, health-care providers, and patients.

Monday, February 14, 2011
Michael Tanner

We can fix our health care system and get payments to providers down to reasonable levels, as every other country in the world has done. Or, we can protect the insurers, the pharmaceutical companies, the hospitals and the highly paid medical specialists and tell people that they will have to do without care.

Monday, September 12, 2011
Dean Baker

While it is true that the rising cost of U.S. health care is one of the biggest long-term challenges to the federal budget, the problem is with our overall health-care system, not with Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, they pay less for services than private insurance does

Saturday, October 1, 2011
Richard Kirsch

Medicare can be saved—but not by ever more burdensome government bureaucracy and micromanagement, such as prescribed by the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Patient choice and market competition, along with strong budget controls, are the keys to reforming Medicare so that it will be available to future generations.

Monday, December 13, 2010
Robert Moffit and James C. Capretta

Medicare is and remains the best option for ensuring quality health care for our retirees, for controlling costs for taxpayers, for administering benefits to Medicare patients, and for spreading the risks of insuring our elderly across our nation. There is always room for improvement, and the Medicare program is in the midst of exactly that—implementing its responsibility under the Affordable Care Act to lead the way in payment and delivery reform in the nation’s health care system.

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Judy Feder and Marilyn Moon

Unsustainable spending growth, enormous crowd-out of private coverage, perverse incentives that discourage work and financial planning, and cost control mechanisms like low provider payment rates that limit access for enrollees and contribute to a low quality of care have left Medicaid in crisis.

Friday, May 6, 2011
Brian Blasé

While many people consider Medicaid to mostly serve the poor, many disabled and elderly Medicaid enrollees come from middle-class households. These beneficiaries make up 25 percent of Medicaid enrollees but account for two-thirds of Medicaid spending.

Monday, July 11, 2011
Scott Lilly

The long term budget deficit is about one thing: medical costs. It’s not about “entitlements.” Social Security isn’t a long run problem of any serious consequence, nor are various small programs that count as entitlements in the budget process.

Monday, February 14, 2011
Jonathan Bernstein
Near-Term Debt & Social Insurance

America faces two budget deficits. The first challenge is near term. Once the economic recovery is well-advanced, we must find a way to cut spending or raise taxes to prevent government debt from rising faster than income. The second challenge is dual: to slow the growth of health care spending, in general, and Medicare spending, in particular, and to decide whether to make cuts to Social Security.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Henry J. Aaron

Congress has failed in every attempt to forge significant compromise to course-correct the nation away from the fiscal cliff it’s headed toward, and the makeup of the deficit reduction committee so far does little to abate those fears. With nine of the 12 lawmakers now named, the chance for deadlock—which would trigger painful and unpopular across-the-board spending cuts—seems greater than the chance for compromise.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Susan Davis

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is a bipartisan, 12-member panel created by the deal struck by President Obama and Congressional leaders in late July 2011 to allow the government to raise the federal debt ceiling. If the committee cannot agree on a plan, or if Congress does not promptly enact its recommendations, the government would automatically cut spending across the board in hundreds of military and nonmilitary programs, including Medicare.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
New York Times

Gen-Y has the worst unemployment. Near-retirees have the least time to recover their savings. And Gen-Xers? They're caught between debt that won't disappear and an economy that won't move.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Derek Thompson

President Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to address our nation's fiscal challenges. The result is a six-part plan to put our nation back on a path to fiscal health, promote economic growth, and protect the most vulnerable among us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Co-Chairmen Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles

Restoring America’s Future was developed by a bipartisan task force that is chaired by former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici and former White House Budget Director and Federal Reserve Vice Chair Alice Rivlin. The plan aims to reduce and stabilize the debt at 60 percent of the economy, and it reforms personal and corporate taxes to make America more competitive, ensures that Social Security can pay benefits to future generations, and controls health care costs.

Monday, November 1, 2010
Pete Domenici & Alice Rivlin

A comprehensive, alternative approach to the Nation’s most pressing domestic priorities. Specifically, the plan addresses health care, retirement security, tax policy, and job training.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Congressman Paul Ryan