Here's Dean Baker explaining how America's elite -- the top 1% -- "know" that now is a great time to cut entitlements to put the bottom 99% "in their place". Yes, the top 1% who blew up the economy and destroyed the wealth & jobs of the bottom 99% have decided that "now" is the time to capitalize on the disaster by creating yet another disaster for the bottom 99%...
The New York Times Bemoans the Lost Opportunity to Cut Social Security and Raise the Age of Medicare Eligibility to 67Go read the original article to get the embedded links.
That's right, you can read about the "unique opportunity" that was lost right here. The complains that the likely deficit deals to be produced in the days ahead will not feature:
"significant future savings from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the entitlement programs whose growth as the population ages is driving long-term projections of unsustainable debt."
As every budget analyst knows, Social Security is not a major driver of the deficit. Under the law, it cannot contribute to the deficit. It can only spend money that was raised from its designated tax or from interest earned on the Treasury bonds bought with this revenue. If the trust fund lacks the money to pay benefits then full benefits will not be paid. Furthermore, the projected increase in Social Security benefits over the decades ahead is relatively modest.
The projected increase in the cost of the Medicare and Medicaid is much larger but this is attributable to the projected explosion in private sector health care costs. If the United States faced the same per person health care costs as any other wealth country we would be facing long-term budget surpluses, not deficits.
This fact is important, since it suggests that the more obvious way to reduce the costs of these programs is to fix the U.S. health care system. This would imply lower payments to drug companies, hospitals, doctors and other providers. Alternatively, Medicare beneficiaries could be given the option to buy into the more efficient health care systems in other countries. If these options were presented to the public it is likely that most would find it preferable to denying care to patients as the NYT advocates in this piece.
It is also worth noting how this "unique opportunity" came about. The deficits exploded due to the incredible incompetence of the Federal Reserve Board which allowed the $8 trillion housing bubble grow unchecked. The collapse of this bubble gave the economy its worst downturn since the Great Depression. High levels of unemployment are projected to persist for a decade.
This economic collapse led to the large deficits that the government is currently running. While tens of millions of people are suffering from the effects of high unemployment and the wealth lost with the collapse of the housing bubble, the NYT views this crisis brought on by Wall Street greed and economic mismanagement as a unique opportunity to cut Social Security and Medicare. Of course, the vast majority of people from all demographic groups (including Tea Party Republicans) strongly oppose cuts to these programs.
It is pathetic that those who caused the financial diaster are now "piling on" and adding yet another disaster -- the removal of government programs -- all in the name of "liberty" and "freedom". Yeah, if you have billions in the bank you can celebrate your freedoms. But if you are working two jobs at minimum wage, you need help to make sure your life doesn't fall apart. But the cruel indifference of the ultra-rich has now translated itself into yet another "opportunity" to offload responsibilities to those already down and out while the ultra-rich continue to demand "tax cuts" and special exemptions and "socialism for the rich" to fatten their wallets. Shame.