Democrats won New York’s 26th Congressional District special election yesterday, defeating Republican Jane Corwin. Democrats now think they have found the silver bullet for 2012: Medicare.
Want to start a fight on Tea Party Nation? Mention Social Security is an entitlement and you will have people coming out swinging.
What do these two things have in common?
They are going to be huge battles for 2012.
Beginning in July, the leading wave of the baby boom generation officially hits 65. Many of these Boomers will start retiring. The retirement of Boomers is going to accelerate as we go through the next years. The numbers do not lie and the numbers are the problem.
Medicare, the old age and disability medical insurance plan will be broke at the present rate by 2024. Given that experts just shaved another year off of that program’s life expectancy, it will probably happen sooner than that. Social Security, the government’s most popular entitlement program, will be broke in 2036. Of course, its life expectancy just had a year shaved off of it too, so Social Security will be insolvent before then.
I can hear the screams from here. “I have paid into Social Security all of my life. It is not an entitlement.”
Actually, it is. For years, your Social Security payments have gone into the general fund. Your Social Security is not like a private retirement account. If you exhaust your retirement account then it is simply gone. When you start drawing Social Security, six years after you start, you have exhausted all of the contributions you made over a lifetime. Yet, you simply do not stop drawing your Social Security. The average life expectancy in America is almost 78 years. If you start drawing Social Security at 65, you have gone through your retirement by 71. Who is paying for those remaining years of your life? It isn’t you. And that is the definition of an entitlement versus a benefit. A benefit is something you paid for. An entitlement is something you did not pay for.
The Democrats think they have found the magic weapon to use against the GOP in the 2012 elections. Politico today fronted what they hope was a joyful headline, “Have the Democrats cracked the code for 2012?”
For years the Democrats have pushed ads saying that the Republicans are going to kick Granny off of Medicare and cut off her Social Security. A liberal commercial recently aired showing someone looking very much like Paul Ryan pushing an old lady off of a cliff.
This is the problem with entitlement programs. They eventually create a dependency. And with that dependency comes outrage when there is an attempt to cut the program.
When Social Security started, the average life expectancy was 63 years. The numbers worked back then. People paid in but most people did not live to see their benefits. Then life expectancy rose. When Social Security started, there were 16 or 17 workers for every retiree. When the baby boom finally finishes retiring, there will be 3 workers for every retiree. The numbers do not lie.
Perhaps the fate that will befall the baby boom generation is ironic since it was known for rebellion against the older generation. The grandparents of Boomers had no retirement. Some drew Social Security and they had no Medicare. The parents of the Boomers lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They were the ones who invented retirement. They were the ones who at 65 were able to retire and live comfortably. For them the American dream became the golden years where they traveled and visited their children and grandchildren and life was good.
For the Boomers, the generation that once said never trust anyone over thirty, their retirement is going to be more like their grandparents older years. Those Boomers who retire now may find themselves forced back into the job market in a few years as the nightmare of unfunded pension liabilities causes many pensions to fail.
There are a few solutions to the Social Security nightmare and none of them are pleasant. Raising the retirement age is the most logical. Means testing is also another idea and finally, the left will suggest massive tax increases. That idea is dead on arrival. The twenty somethings who have just gotten out of college and are just starting families of their own are not going to want to pay huge amounts in taxes so the Boomers can have their Social Security and Medicare entitlements.
Once again, I can hear the screams, “I paid into Social Security all of my life. It isn’t an entitlement.” I paid into Social Security too. All of my life. I won’t see a dime of mine.
Politicians, both Republican and Democrat saw the Social Security Trust Fund as just another source of money they could spend. And like the crazed crack head going for more cocaine, they stole it and blew through it faster than junkie on a bender. We can argue all we want about whose fault it is, but the simple fact of the matter is, Social Security is heading for insolvency and it is not going to be here much longer.
The American vision has always been that we leave the country for the next generation better than we had it. Each generation of Americans is better off than the generation before them. The Boomers may be the generation that breaks this streak and leaves the country worse off. Our children may not have the wealth we have had and may end up considerably worse off. If we Boomers do not do something about these entitlement programs, our children will suffer as the economy simply collapses in the future.
Are we that arrogant? Are we that self-centered? Is that what we really want?
Or will we Boomers, as we go to our “golden years,” step up and make the changes and sacrifices necessary so that our children and grandchildren are not bankrupt?
Paul Ryan Responds on F&F this morning:
If we would leave it to the states, and some states provided more benefits, then all of the slouches would go to those states, leaving only the producers in the remaining states.
This is sort of the same premise that happened in Mississippi not long ago. Neighbor states had a significantly higher tax on tobacco. The result was that people living within about fifty miles of the state line would come to Mississippi to buy their cigarettes and while they were here, they'd buy their gasoline and groceries. The other states bitched about it and the Democrat-controlled state House relented and raised ours to match the others. Of course it wasn't much of an argument. Nevermind the fact that we lost all of that sales tax revenue! Brilliant!!!
You are right Jeff. When we begin to travel down the path of government solutions for all our needs, escpecially the really important needs, we come to the place where the path ends at the cliff.
We are at a place where we have to bite the bullet and abandon the SS and medicare programs. If you ask an aged parent would they sacrifice themselves for their child, most would say yes.
The time has come. We can do it now while we can set an example to our posterity. They may then learn once and for all that socialism/government collectivism does not work.
Absolutely right on!
SOCIAL SECURITY IS **INSURANCE** NOT AN ENTITLEMENT. WE ALL PAY INTO IT, WE ALL CAN COLLECT. WELFARE IS AN ENTITLEMENT. EVERYBODY PAYS TAXES AND ONLY A HALF COLLECT. QUIT CALLING IT AN ENTITLEMENT !!!!!!!