On Monday, Tim Kaine released a statement on the “47th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.” It’s not usually a milestone one celebrates, and it was doubly odd to see him call attention to two government programs that are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Kaine’s pitch: While in need of reform, the programs have managed to give grandma and grandpa “a stable and healthy retirement.”
Without getting too deep in the weeds, seniors have reaped substantial benefits from Medicare. More than they have paid for through payroll deductions and premiums.
It’s a massive wealth transfer program from which there is no escape. But even with the fixes Tim Kaine urges — “like allowing for the negotiation of prescription drug prices — a measure that could save as much as $24 billion every year” — it will still go bust, and possibly as soon as 2014.
Making the program solvent, then, will require more drastic action. But even the middling steps urged by Rep. Paul Ryan earn Kaine’s scorn:
There are some, like my opponent, George Allen, who threaten to scale back these protections, and diminish benefits. George Allen has repeatedly praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which would dramatically shift health care costs onto the shoulders of older Americans, and replace the current Medicare system with one that could leave some seniors under age 67 without any health coverage at all. His all-cuts approach would slash spending to these vital safety net programs and attempt to solve our fiscal challenges on the backs of those who can afford it least.
That’s rich. If anything, Mr. Ryan doesn’t do nearly enough to steer us away from the fiscal iceberg that is Medicare. Kaine might know this, on some level, but it is far easier to pander for senior votes than tell them the hard truth: Your entitlement program is bankrupting us, and no amount of fixes will changes that.
[Continue reading Norman Leahy’s post at Bearing Drift.]
Norman Leahy blogs at Bearing Drift. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.