Entitlement reform for the entitled

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 5:46 a.m. MDT

If nothing is done about entitlement spending, and if our current tax breaks continue, then by 2025, tax revenue will be able to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest on the debt and nothing else. The rest — defense, medical research, highways, education, energy — will have to be financed by deficits. Social Security’s funding is predicted to run short in 2033, Medicare’s trust fund in 2024.

Like much else in Washington, there is little bipartisan agreement on what to do about it. When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Republicans emphasize cuts and privatization, while Democrats strongly oppose both approaches. Neither side was able to embrace the 2010 bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan, which proposed lowering Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments, increasing the taxable maximum income and raising the eligibility age to 69 by 2075..

But here is a better bipartisan reform: Graduated eligibility. Instead of having a fixed age at which people can get Social Security and Medicare, we should link the age of eligibility to lifetime wealth. The richer you are, the older you would have to be to be eligible for Social Security and Medicare..

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