Robert J. Samuelson, in his June 11 op-ed, “The cowardice of the political class,” lamented that he has been writing about the excesses of Medicare and Social Security for 30 years without effect. Unfortunately, his proposed solutions for the “problems” created by federal support for social welfare programs — cutting benefits and restricting eligibility — sound like a broken record.
Mr. Samuelson blamed liberals for allowing these programs to dominate federal spending and starve out important competing needs. He forgot that liberals also argue for higher taxes on the rich to help pay for other important priorities, argue for relaxed and reformed immigration laws because we need more young workers to offset the elderly’s increasing share of the population, and argue for systemic reform of the health-care system to lower its cost. He need only look at many other democratic countries for compelling examples of how to reduce health-care costs and, concomitantly, the costs of Medicare and Medicaid. International comparisons also clearly show that Americans have a lower tax burden than residents of other advanced democracies, contradicting Mr. Samuelson’s implicit underlying assumption that the federal government is too big and spends too much.
While there is clearly room for improvement in our social welfare programs, Mr. Samuelson should broaden his tune and stop sounding like a one-note band.
Jack Hadley, Arlington