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The Good News about the Spending Freeze - It's Preparation for Gutting Social Security and Medicare!

BDBlue's picture
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From the New York Times (emphasis mine):

It is the growth in the so-called entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — that is the major factor behind projections of unsustainably high deficits, because of rapidly rising health costs and an aging population.

But one administration official said that limiting the much smaller discretionary domestic budget would have symbolic value. That spending includes lawmakers’ earmarks for parochial projects, and only when the public believes such perceived waste is being wrung out will they be willing to consider reductions in popular entitlement programs, the official said.

“By helping to create a new atmosphere of fiscal discipline, it can actually also feed into debates over other components of the budget,” the official said, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

Oh, yeah, people are going to love that. That's a good plan right there. [pounds head on desk]

(Via Digby)

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

as a Quick hit at OL and in comments at TL. Like Bush, the Obama people do tell you what they're up to, you just have to be willing to listen.

Submitted by Lex on

Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are off-budget, are they not? The funds to support them are collected through payroll taxes and hence are separate from what's done with income taxes. (I do realize that the gov likes to put them in with other expenditures so that the defense budget doesn't look like the whole pie chart, but that's beside the point.)

If these "entitlements" (btw, is it an entitlement if you pay for it your whole working life?) are causing, or will cause, budgetary constraints in the future then it's because successive administrations and Congresses have used the surplus collection as spendable money and replaced the money collected with IOU's. That's not a problem with the programs, that's a problem with politicians.

Or simply this, welcome to the next phase: neo-liberal austerity measures to further hollow out the public sector. It happens all the time when developing nations or nations in crisis get "help" from the IMF. After the '97 crisis the same sorts of things were not-so-politely suggested to South Korea. It followed the prescription for a while until it became clear that such measures made matters worse; once abandoned in favor of actual policy, recovery began.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

You were prematurely correct that candidate Obama was dog-whistling this quite some time ago.

JG's picture
Submitted by JG on

Social Security and Medicare are indeed off-budget and have their own trust funds. It's true that these trust funds are invested in government bonds, but that's not particularly relevant (the $12T debt includes over $2T owed to Social Security, for example).

The problem is that the dedicated revenue sources are insufficient to continue funding these entitlements indefinitely. The latest Trustees Report forecasts that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will run out of money in 2017, and the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2037.

Social Security can probably be extended into the distant future by tweaking its payroll tax, but Medicare needs the growth rate of medical costs to be dealt with.

Submitted by lambert on

But the powers that be would rather cut care than health insurance profits. That is understandable, because they are owned by the health insurance companies.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

This is it. He may have been the "liberal lion", but without him we would not have Obama taking us to the precipice of ending entitlement reform. Who else is guilty: John Conyers, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Richardson, . . .

Yes, I do blame Hillary as well for accepting a fraudulent election and for eventually enabling him. You can't trust an election rigger and his/her enablers. Only tyrants rig elections.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

having some sense of self-preservation and wanting to continue getting themselves re-elected, will probably not go along with wholesale gutting of Medicare.

Social Security they could care less about because their Wall Street buds want the money.

The whole outfit is so corrupt it's not worth fighting over.