Doug and I have discussed this issue before, so when I read the article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Friday about the federal budget wrangling, it was not a surprise. What was surprising was the depth of anger the article caused. Maybe I was just stressed out, but I've simmered all weekend and I'm still angry this morning. Here is the nutshell - 85% of the federal budget goes to three (yes, 3) things which no politician of either party will touch with a ten foot pole: national defense, social security, and medicaid/medicare. So all of the BS posturing that we see when the budget is discussed each year is over just 15% of the total budget. The talking heads discuss, opine, argue and finger-point about items in the budget and the press dutifully reports it all, but nobody ever discusses or tries to "fix" the real problem - it's just not politically advantageous (more like suicidal). Meanwhile, we edge closer to disaster every day.
Some folks, who are retired or close to retirement age, don't want to "fix" (by "fix", I mean make solvent) social security because that would mean that their benefits would be cut. They are operating under the assumption that the money that they paid into the system was held in trust by the government and will be repaid to them according to the plan when in fact, the money they paid in was paid out the same year to other beneficiaries. Nobody banked any money, so the current beneficiaries are living off of the money paid by the current workers. So, you ask, when the number of beneficiaries increases and the number of workers decreases, won't there be a problem? DUH . . . yes. But no one wants to fix the problem. Medicaid/Medicare has a similar problem, but will be insolvent much more quickly - it won't be our children's problem, it will be our problem. Has anyone posed any reasonable solution(s)?
No. Bush posed a half-assed solution to the social security problem last year which came to nothing. Neal Boortz and John Linder have allegedly proposed a solution in their Fair Tax book. I'm still reading that book so I don't know if their proposal is reasonable, but my gosh, how could we (voters), our parents (retirees or almost-retirees) or our elected representatives have allowed this mess to occur and why isn't anyone trying to fix it?
It's beyond ridiculous.