Today as I watched [former] Senators [Alan K.] Simpson [R-Wyo.] and [Erskine] Bowles [D-N.C.] trying to undermine Social Security and Medicare, I thought here are two examples of entitlements that will not be touched. They have pensions and medical care any hard-working person would envy.
Let’s examine Social Security. It has been in existence since 1935 and has never paid out more than it took in. In 1980, it needed some adjustment, and the trust fund was created. Up until that time, the excess was put in the general fund. Today, its value is more than $2 trillion, and if it were available, it would fund Social Security until about 2040. That is your retirement money invested in government securities and is now part of the deficits.
Let’s examine Medicare. It has been quickly turned over to private insurance companies. A big percentage of us have moved into what is called Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare pays the PPO $750 a month for my health care. That’s $18,000 a year paid for my wife and me. These companies are making billions of dollars of profit each year.
Who do you want to profit from your health care? I want the doctor to drive a Cadillac, have one of the nicest houses in town, work a 40-hour week, and even have time for a little golf. I want him to have a little time when he exams me and to be well rested. I want the nurse to not be far behind him, and I want the hospital to have the best equipment available.
The answer? Combine Medicare and Social Security and completely remove the cap, which is now set at $106,800 and get the insurance companies out of Medicare. Warren Buffet will pay the same percentage of his income as the guy making $40,000 a year.
The deficit. We bring every American soldier home, close every foreign base and stop acting like the Lone Ranger. The only soldiers left overseas will guard our embassies. We shall maintain a strong defensive army and drop its size by attrition.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” These are the words of President Eisenhower in his farewell address. A great president and general, but no one listened. I believe we saw this come into play recently when the generals refused to give President Obama an exit plan for Afghanistan. When will we see that we have wasted our blood and treasure on these unconstitutional wars?
George L. Schrum
Editor’s note: Alan K. Simpson and Erskine Bowles were appointed in 2010 as co-chairmen President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.