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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Of fiscal cliffs and cliff diving (92 comments)

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  •  Essentially we are arguing between various (4+ / 0-)

    forms of truly rotten ideas.  Obama's balanced approach is bad, Simpson-Bowles is worse and whatever the Republicans parade out is worse than that.  

    You want to close the deficit - then encourage growth and invest, since we'd be investing at rock bottom interest rates.  But of course that is not an option, and we are left with deciding precisely how much the working class is going to be screwed.

    I am grateful Barack Obama was reelected - but this is one of the areas where he has been deeply profoundly unsatisfying.

    •  I read the deficit is already shrinking. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KibbutzAmiad, smiley7

      Seems like letting the Bush tax cuts expire would be enough to bring it down at a responsible rate, at least for now.

      Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

      by Bush Bites on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:09:11 AM PST

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      •  it is but that is not the long term issue (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes, One Opinion
        Nevertheless, Medicare spending would still consume a growing share of the GDP because of increasing numbers of beneficiaries. Thus, even if the ACA achieves its ambitious goals, Medicare would still need extra resources to solve this demographic problem.
        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        we can argue about the solution, but this is the problem.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:23:09 AM PST

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        •  I'd rather they mess around with deductibles... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yellowdog, Amber6541

          .....or means testing than raise the age.

          Of course, I'm speaking from self interest, but who the hell is going to hire all these old geezers the Repubs want to keep in the workforce until age 70?

           

          Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

          by Bush Bites on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:33:30 AM PST

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          •  Walmart (but not full time with bennies) (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bush Bites, Amber6541

            so it goes.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:37:31 AM PST

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          •  Means testing would be prohibitively (5+ / 0-)

            expensive, IMO.
            Think of it this way: Every year, say we have 1 million people that reach retirement age. Some agency then has to pore through (assumably) their tax returns to find out what their income and assets add up to each year. Then they have to figure out what income they would make from investment and retirement accounts (ROTH IRAs, 401Ks, pensions, etc).
            Then they have to figure out at what point they make too much money to be able to get benefits from Medicare.
            Then there have to be programs in place that can affordably offer insurance to people over 65.
            Here's Paul Krugman:

            The usual argument against means-testing — which is entirely valid — is that it (a) doesn’t save much money and (b) messes up a relatively simple program. The reason it can’t save much money is that there are relatively few people rich enough to be able to afford major cost-sharing. Meanwhile, the good thing about Medicare, as with Social Security, is precisely that it doesn’t depend on your personal financial status — you just get it. Means-testing would turn it into something much more intrusive, like Medicaid.

            But there’s a further point I haven’t seen emphasized: if you want the well-off to pay more, it’s just better to raise their taxes.

            Wait, you say: won’t raising taxes reduce incentives to work and create wealth? Yes, it will (although such effects are greatly exaggerated in our political discourse.) But means-testing benefits does the same thing. Conservative economists love to point out that means-tested programs like food stamps in effect create high marginal tax rates for low-income families, since they lose benefits if they work and earn more. Well, means-testing Medicare would do the same thing: your reward for a life of hard work and accumulation will be higher copays and deductibles.

            http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/...

            “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

            by skohayes on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:59:31 AM PST

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            •  One response - they do have computers to do (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              One Opinion, skohayes

              the pouring over of all that financial stuff.  Humans would only need to push a few buttons, then the computer would do the rest.

              Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

              by Amber6541 on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:33:24 AM PST

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              •  I'd prefer an "I don't need it." checkbox (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Amber6541

                Like some do with donations to certain state programs. I agree it is important to keep the program as a defined benefit pension rather than an insurance program.

              •  I have to do paperwork for the USDA (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Amber6541

                about once a year in my job. I'm using a form with carbon paper in it.
                Don't kid yourself. Different departments use different computer systems, different software, different databases.
                You can't just push a couple of buttons and viola the work is done.

                “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                by skohayes on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:49:06 PM PST

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        •  It's not just Medicare spending that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541, One Opinion

          continue to rise; it's health care costs in general.  Health care costs are rising across the board, which is the real, long-term threat to the economic health of the country.

          To paraphrase Dean Baker:  if we spent the same amount on health care per capita as Europe, the UK and Japan, we would not be facing deficits, but surpluses until about 2090.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:06:10 AM PST

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    •  do pay attention to this (6+ / 0-)
      Medicare: Why is it on the table?

      And there we have a problem, not so easily solved: the current rate of growth is not sustainable. In fact, it's getting out of control because baby boomers are aging (story from 12/30/2010):

      Starting on Saturday, Baby Boomers begin turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare — one every eight seconds. A record 2.8 million will qualify in 2011, rising to 4.2 million a year by 2030, projections show.

      In all, the government expects 76 million Boomers will age on to Medicare. Even factoring in deaths over that period, the program will grow from 47 million today to 80 million in 2030.

      That is going to significantly add to Medicare costs over the next several decades. As boomers age, they/we will flood the system, and that's not fully addressed by our current health reform law:

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:10:25 AM PST

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