Robert Bennett: Candidates should debate how to fix Social Security, Medicare

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 16, 2012 3:08 p.m.


    Not to nitpick, but could you really take care of your parents if they require a nursing home?

    Typical fees exceed $300 per day and can easily go north of $400 per day. Procedures and treatments are extra. Very few of us could withstand a parent being in a nursing home for more than a few weeks. Also, modern nursing homes are typically only for those who need nursing care. Bringing parents home is not feasible in most cases (unless one of you is medically certified and does not work).

    Charity is great but just count the nursing homes in your area and look at how much charity would be required to make up the difference.

    Overall, we need some sort of insurance program for the elderly. We tried it the other way. The results were not pretty.

  • Madden Herriman, UT
    Oct. 16, 2012 2:57 p.m.

    he solution is a mix of these: Raise the age. Lower the benefit. Raise the SS tax. Get more payers into the system (more kids, more immigration).

    Sadly, too many seniors and near-seniors buy into the victim status politicians cry about. "My opponent hates seniors, they want to take away your money." Bull.

    Why can't we have a decent politician appeal to the better nature of seniors - "The older generations live longer and have fewer kids, and the system is no longer working. In order to save the system for your children and grandchildren we need to make some small sacrifices in delaying benefits - are you willing to do that for the generations following you?"

  • JDL Magna, UT
    Oct. 16, 2012 2:42 p.m.

    Here is what I think should happen to SS and Medicare; they should both be phased out entirely over the next 10-15 years, then "We The People" need to restore the principals of limited government. If we don't restore the government and we continue on the path we are on which is to save everyone from themselves, we are doomed to economic, social and libertarian (not the political party)failure.

    To use the term beloved by the "we are all entitled to someone Else's money and effort crowd" Sustainability of current policy should be translated to crash and burn.

    "Abolish the dole and re-enthrone work" I can and will take care of my parents without the help of the government and so can everyone else through non extorted but charitable means especially when big brother gets the heck out of the way.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 16, 2012 10:33 a.m.

    The problem of Social Security is a piker compared to Medicare. Demographics aside, the cost increases are totally predictable and track to inflation (or are lower if COLA’s do not keep up). As Roland said, a small benefit decrease and a small tax increase would fix it. I would also add means testing and raising the taxable income threshold would do the same.

    Medicare is a far greater problem. Until we find ways to control costs, healthcare will continue to eat up higher and higher percentages of GDP, and is the main reason for the wage stagnation we’ve seen over the last three decades (virtually all raises have been provided in the form of higher premium payments). And Medicare only represents the governments’ liability of a societal problem.

    Healthcare costs are the elephant in the room… Social Security by comparison is the mouse.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    If we got our healthcare costs down to the level of the rest of the developed world, it would solve all of Medicare's problems.

    Social Security's problems are much smaller. Social Security currently consumes 5% of GDP, that is going to rise to 6% over the next thirty years, and then stay there indefinitely. 1% of GDP is not an unsolvable problem. A small benefit cut coupled to a small tax increase will take care of it

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 9:43 a.m.

    We should not be listening to "Bailout Bob" on any fiscal issue whatsoever.

    Nor should we expect any wisdom, responsibility, or credibility from either of the
    two debating political parties who, even while complaining that SS is running out
    of funds, have reduced SS contributions drastically.

    The SS quandary is the fault of BOTH parties, not that of the retirees who are
    being blamed and punished for the lack of integrity of the political establishment.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 9:37 a.m.

    I wouldn't listen to "Bsilout Bob" on any financial issue, or quandary.

    Nor would I listen to the two political parties who have reduced funding for
    Social Security even while complaining about the lack of funds.

    Neither party is addressing the decrease in purchasing power of
    Social Security payments caused by government overspending.

    It is indubitally the fault of BOTH parties but
    not that of the SS recipients who are the ones being punished.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 15, 2012 8:03 a.m.

    “The looming crises are not the fault of either party.” Not entirely true.

    The looming crisis is the fault of BOTH parties. When Social Security was “fixed” in the early 1980s, they should have created a lockbox for all of the excess funds they would have coming in over the next decade or so. Instead, they squandered it in extra programs and tax cuts (substituting FICA for standard tax revenue streams). Both parties signed the death warrant. Now, they wonder why the patient is dying.

    I also disagree that Soc. is a lottery. It is an insurance fund but unlike private insurers the benefits are not from investments. They COULD have been (see above) but politicians on both sides were too interested in claiming victory and going home.

    As to Bush being savaged for trying to reform Soc. He would not have been had he not proposed private investment accounts which had a host of other problems associated with them and seemed like a sop to Wall Street rather than a real fix.

    We need to look to Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. Had we done something similar in the 1980s we would be swimming in money now.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 7:56 a.m.

    But trying to find a solution to a big problem cannot be done in 30-second sound bites.

    And then there are all those special interest groups hiding behind big money somewhere in the background.

    Add to that the fact that politicians can't tell the truth because it might mean they have to actually do something.

    Politics is a game. It's not about doing anything good for anyone -- except those who are providing the political bankrolls for the politicians.

    Remember the origin of the word "politics." It comes from two ancient Greek words: Poly, which means many and Tics which means blood suckers.