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I watch Fox News once in a while, to find out what the rubes are being fed today, in their factless Happy Meals.

Today I was greeted by this clown [Sr Editor] Jamie Weinstein from the Daily Caller,

who was indignantly claiming that America's biggest problem is "its $80 Trillion in Unfunded Liabilities."  Quickly adding, "It's criminal."

Meanwhile, clown-wrangler Gregg Jarrett simply grinned like the carnival-barker he is: "Fascinating, I'm glad you said that. Do go on ..."

Ronald McSpinner went on to flatly state, "Congress' obsession with 'Taxing the Rich' is a distraction. It's meaningless."

Frame-enabler Jarrett, concurs:  "Really!?  I thought so."

Raising Taxes is meaningless?  How are we to pay our bills then, with Fox News McNuggets?

Just wait 24 hours, they'll always make more ... FOX is kind like the FED, that way ...

Curious as to how far this False Frame has spread, I did a quick search.  Here are some quick results:

Report: Federal unfunded liabilities total $84 trillion

by Michael Bastasch, --  July 7, 2012

The federal government faces unfunded liabilities totalling $84 trillion, with more than $30.3 trillion owed to public debt holders, federal employees and current retirees in the form of Social Security and Medicaid benefits, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan National Center for Policy Analysis [primarily funded by private foundations established by wealthy conservative business families and billionaires, including Charles and David Koch].

“Overall, the fiscal imbalance is equal to 5.7 percent of the present value of all future GDP, which translates into about 31 percent of the long run federal revenue estimate,” the report states.

$80 Trillion In Unfunded Liabilities The True Noose Around Our Necks

by Robert Rohlfing, -- Dec 1, 2012

We hear all about the $16 Trillion dollars in debt that our country is in, but the much larger problem and the one that our politicians and citizens do not want to talk about honestly is the $80 Trillion Dollars in Unfunded Liabilities at the federal level. [...]
BIGELOW: Punting problems to next generation won’t solve fiscal crisis

by Celia Bigelow, -- Dec 28, 2012

That isn’t the worst of it. The federal government doesn’t account for the unfunded liabilities -- the future promised payments not covered by current revenues or assets --in our nation’s projections and annual reports. We owe an estimated $20.5 trillion in future Social Security benefits and $42.8 trillion for Medicare payments. In fact, total unfunded liabilities in America are estimated to be anywhere between $86 trillion and $100 trillion.

Celia Bigelow, 22, is the campus director for American Majority Action.

Mort Zuckerman: Brace For an Avalanche of Unfunded Debt

The fiscal cliff isn't as scary as the looming deficit and debt crisis about to swamp the country

by Mortimer B. Zuckerman, -- Dec 28, 2012

The greatest fiscal challenge to the U.S. government is not just its annual deficit but its total liabilities. Our federal balance sheet does not include the unfunded social insurance obligations of Medicare, Social Security, and the future retirement benefits of federal employees. Only in the small print of the financial statements do you get some idea of the enormous size of the unfunded commitments. Today the estimated unfunded total is more than $87 trillion, or 550 percent of our GDP. And the debt per household is more than 10 times the median family income.

Funny Mort, the originating report (funded by Koch), said the imbalance is in the 30% neighborhood, not the 550%.

Funny Celia, the fact that "We owe an estimated $20.5 trillion in future Social Security benefits" -- might have something to do with that is what we have paid into it.  Maybe the General Fund (ie Congress) should quit borrowing from the Trust Fund to finance our their wars, eh?  Those I.O.U's are a bitch, sometimes.  The Law says, "Repayment in full, with interest."

Sorry Mc' Bastasch, if the idea of "paying our bills" and "honoring our commitments to workers" disturbs you so much -- Maybe you should move to Canada, where you and the Kochs have obviously been spreading your wares.

And with regards to that scarey "Unfunded Medicare Liability" -- perhaps Chris Hayes put it best, with his "let's wait and see" commentary ...

Time-mark 0:37

Chris Hayes:  My feeling on this {Medicare growth rate un-sustainability} is, we just spent all this time, legislative effort, political capital -- on this 2000 page bill, which the Tea Party would keep telling me it's 2000 pages. That means it's bad apparently.  

That we passed this big bill, most of which was 'stuff to try to bring down Health Care costs.'  Now it might not work. It might be a total disaster. All the critics of the bill's cost-containment measures, might be totally true,

-- BUT let's just see!  If it'll work or not, and then come back and re-attack the problem in 5 years.

link to video

The sky-is-falling, we-don't-pay-for-anything floor is yours ...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Regardless of what the actual numbers are (5+ / 0-)

    there's no question that, over the long-term, Medicare and Medicaid are unsustainable.  There have to be changes to the system eventually.  If we don't do the "Doc fix" every year, the numbers are just bad.  If we continue to do a "doc fix" every year, the numbers are horrendous.  The CBO projections are pretty eye-opening. The CBO's discussions of the long term fiscal outlook with the different Medicare scenarios is also discussed here.  

    I don't know whether the numbers of "unfunded liabilities" stated in this diary are correct or not.  I do know, from reading the last few years of CBO and Medicare Trustees Reports, that something has to happen to slow the growth trajectory in Medicare and Medicaid, or our children will be living in a situaiton where the federal government provides healthcare to the poor and elderly, pays interest on the debt, and does little else because they don't have the money.  And the $160 billion a year that was the President's long-ago opening bid for what he wanted to get from taxing the rich does very little to solve the problem.  A more comprehensive "fix" of some kind is needed.

    Democrats certainly do not need to accept Republican proposals on long-term fixes for Medicare and Medicaid.  But something significant has to be done.  And I have little respect for people who put their heads in the sand and pretend there's no long-term problem.  There is  a long-term problem - a big one.  As with those twelve step programs for addictions, the first step in solving a problem is admitting we have the problem.  And the longer we wait to address it, the more difficult and painful a fix becomes.  

    Read the Medicare Trustees Report.

    •  Affordable Care Act (ACA) (3+ / 0-)

      is addressing Medicare "structural problems":

      -- paying for outcomes, not tests performed;

      -- taking the wealthy (ACA surcharge) to pay for the health care of the poor;

      -- limits to profit margins, mark-up fees.


      Like Chris Hayes says, let's give that (ACA) a chance to work.  It's all about 'bending those cost curves' back down.

      SS is solvent to 2037 or 2039, I think.

      simply raising the FICA payroll Ceiling,

      would make it solvent indefinitely.

      Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
      -- Here's how.

      by jamess on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 04:25:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  taXing the wealthy (ACA surcharge) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery, David PA

        it goes into effect this year, I think.

        Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
        -- Here's how.

        by jamess on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 04:27:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Read the Trustees Report. That last link. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep, Sparhawk, VClib

        That takes into account the ACA.  The numbers are still very very bad.  And if you assume that we won't cut provider reimbursements by 1/4 to 1/2, i.e., we won't do the "doc fix"  -- which Congress would never let happen, because few doctors would see Medicare patients -- the numbers could be dramatically worse.

        If you want to do it within the existing system, you have to fundamentally change the fee for service model, AND go to a system where you don't give 80 year olds very very expensive treatment that has a 25% chance of prolonging their lives for a year -- what Steven Rattner, in one of those links, calls "death panels."  You have to ration in some way.  You can't continue giving elderly patients every possible treatment that could have a chance of prolonging life.  That's the hard truth. Nobody wants to face that, because when it's your parent, or your spouse, you WANT them to have any and all treatments that could possibly prolong life.  

         READ THE TRUSTEES REPORT.  It puts forth some bleak numbers, and then says that the actual numbers could very well be much, much worse.  

        The ACA is not going to bend the cost curve enough, according to the Medicare Trustees.  I think they know a lot more about it than Chris Hayes, who is making a political statement.  

        I did not mention Social Security.  It would be  fine if you bring insured wages back up to 90% of all wages.  You can't lift the cap completely, because -- since retirement payouts are based on the amount of wages insured --- you'd be paying very very wealthy retirees hundreds of thousands of dollars in SS retirement benefits, a non-stater politically.   Remember, SS is not really a "tax."   It is wage insurance -- you insure a certain amount of wages (the amount you pay taxes on) in case you live longer than your ability to work.  Your payout, like any other insurance program, is based on the value of what you insure.  

        •  the main Conclusion of the Trustee Report (0+ / 0-)

          (on page 8)

          doesn't sound that bad:

          Kind of a drag, the report has settings, so that no one can copy their words.

          Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
          -- Here's how.

          by jamess on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 04:54:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That says that Medicare costs will (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, VClib

            double as a percent of GDP if Congress never does the doc fix.  If Congress does do the Doc fix, Medicare spending would grow to 10% of GDP.  That's not 10% of the federal budget, that's 10% of GDP, when the federal government, even during good years, collects total revenue of 18% of GDP (right now we're at about 15% of GDP).  

            That's just Medicare.  That's not counting Medicaid, which has spending about equal to Medicare.  That's over half of the total federal receipts going to Medicare alone, when now, Medicare and Medicaid together equal about 23% of the budget.  

          •  jamess - that's 10% of GDP (0+ / 0-)

            Not 10% of the total federal budget or 10% of the discretionary budget, but 10% of GDP. Historically the federal government has collected total revenues of less than 20% of GDP (it's currently 15%).

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 09:35:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Obamacare is a big part of the fix. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, Eric Nelson

      if it works as intended, it will greatly slow the growth in health care costs, which will a long way to solving Medicare's finances.

      •  Not enough, according to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thestructureguy, Sparhawk

        the Medicare Trustees. The 2012 Report takes into account the ACA.

        On page 2- 3 the Report says it assumes that the ACA will produce the savings some people say it will, even though that is highly uncertain, and it explains why.  Because of that uncertainty, the Report says, the ACTUAL costs could be "substantially larger" than the projections in the report if, among other things, Congress continues to do the Doc Fix and the ACA does not produce all the savings hoped for. The Report's intro concludes, on page 5, by saying that the projections in that report should be considered the most favorable outcome if Congress stops the Doc Fix and the ACA can sustain all the hoped for savings over the long term.  It clearly indicates that a more realistic projection is "significantly higher."  See also pages 6 -7, where they say Medicare is only solvent in the short term if you assume Congress won't do the Doc Fix (which they are about to do again in this deal they are working out).  

        At the end of the Intro:

        Total Medicare expenditures were $549 billion in 2011. The Board projects that, under current law, expenditures will increase in future years at a somewhat faster pace than either aggregate workers’ earnings or the economy overall and that, as a percentage of GDP,
        they will increase from 3.7 percent in 2011 to 6.7 percent by 2086 (based on the Trustees’ intermediate set of assumptions). If lawmakers continue to override the statutory decreases in physician fees, and if the reduced price increases for other health services under Medicare are not sustained and do not take full effect in the long range, then Medicare spending would instead represent roughly 10.4 percent of GDP in 2086. Growth of this magnitude, if realized, would substantially increase the strain on the nation’s workers, the
        economy, Medicare beneficiaries, and the federal budget.

        The Trustees project that HI tax income and other dedicated revenues will fall short of HI expenditures in all future years under current law. The HI trust fund does not meet either the Trustees’ test of short-range test of financial adequacy or their test of long-range
        close actuarial balance.

    •  It's the "Healthcare system" that's broken, (7+ / 0-)

      not Medicare. If we don't address the reasons why we pay twice per capita what the rest of the industrialized World pays for "healthcare", while leaving tens of millions without  coverage we won't solve the problem with Medicare and Medicaid.

      "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

      by irate on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 04:39:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That could well be true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, VClib

        but it means that something has to be done.  It still means that saying "oh, there's no problem" is completely disingenuous.  

        I have great respect for Democrats who recognize the problem and want to talk about solutions.  I have little respect for those who pretend no problem exists.  

      •  irate - the problem requires a very long term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        solution and in the much shorter term Medicare will go broke. The reason that we pay twice as much as other first world nations is not insurance companies or drug makers, although they are a small part of it. The real reason is that we teach and practice medicine in an entirely different way that they do in Europe or Japan, or even Canada. A single payer would help some, but likely only enough to cover the uninsured, we would still be paying a huge premium over other first world countries. The first step on the path to lower health care costs is a dramatic increase in the number of primary care physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. We need to change the basic supply/demand relationship in primary care. That will take a decade if the federal government made it a priority and funded it with billions of dollars. We have a growing majority of physicians who will not see Medicaid patients and a growing number who will not see Medicare patients because the reimbursement is too low.  Some think the ACA will change the slope of the healthcare cost curve in the US, I personally think it won't although I certainly hope I am wrong. But the biggest issue is how medicine is practiced in the US which is defensive. They don't do that anywhere else and it is a huge cost driver in our system.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 09:28:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Single payer. Roll everybody into medicare. Get (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, Pete Dunkelberg

      our cost of care down to that of the rest of the industrialized nations.

      As far as doctors refusing to take medicare customers, put a lock on most med school slots and fill them with persons who agree to take some tuition help in return for agreeing to be able to become a doctor. Those students who refuse to play if they lose the guarantee of becoming a millionaire can fight each other for the remaining crumbs.

      It's not like we're powerless.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 06:09:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Totally agree (0+ / 0-)

        we got to get a single-payer option, back on the table again.

        What service is it, that insurance companies really perform?

        Besides, deciding to Say No,

        and perpetually raising their premium rates.

        Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
        -- Here's how.

        by jamess on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 07:42:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  if I understand the concept of unfunded liabilitie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    since wingers do so love to compare the national budget to an average home's budget, does that mean when I buy a car on time, which is simply spending projected future income that should come in but there is no guarantee that it may come in (I could become disabled or die for example).

    Using the concept of a household budget, it this what they mean when they speak of unfunded liabilities?  If so, then I would propose most if not all of the industrialized nations have unfunded liabilities; has anyone thought to compare the US level with that of other nations? Since this is Fox, I have come to expect "scare quotes" with each headline

  •  Mort Zuckerman is just another Obama hater. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The fact is he was one of those taken in by Bernie Madoff. His financial "opinion" is to be taken with a grain of salt.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 05:12:58 PM PST

  •  I don't know how long my 84 year old father had (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    lung cancer before he finally went in to have it diagnosed. He had a thing about the health care system, but I guess that coughing up blood will tend to focus the attention. Anyway, he was told that he could suffer through hell to live a little while longer, or eat pain killers and live about half as long. He died in his own bed, wouldn't have had it any other way, and had the intestinal fortitude to live his decision. Near as I can tell, from birth to death he was a net payer into the system.

    I don't think that it's inappropriate for government to promote that model.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 06:17:53 PM PST

    •  I know (0+ / 0-)

      We need wellness care,

      not insurance company musical chairs.

      So sorry for your loss  oldpotsmuggler,

      It sounds much more painful that it should have been.

      My step-dad went through a similar painful demise.

      Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
      -- Here's how.

      by jamess on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 07:40:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well cancer is always going to be a bitch, and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        beyond that it's just a matter of personal circumstances. But heroic measures to prolong a life that has no quality to it?

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 08:12:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  In fact, an infinitude of unfunded liabilities. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, Pete Dunkelberg

    We have a perpetual obligation to defend this country, and no matter small we shrink the annual defense budget, if its at least one 2012 dollar that will gobble up infinitely much money.  So. we're toast!

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