WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 "It's time to end thewidespread myth that Social Security is faltering; the real problem isMedicare," say ex-U.S. House Committee on Aging Chief of Staff Robert Weiner(also a former White House senior staff member) and former senior Hill aideJohn Larmett in a Palm Beach Post op-ed published today.
"Presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, has called SocialSecurity funding 'a disgrace' and asserted 'Everything is on the table,'including his desire to convert at least a portion to private accounts,"Weiner and Larmett point out.
But Weiner and Larmett argue that calls "to 'reform' Social Securitythrough risky privatization are a cry-wolf, granny-you're-on-your-own, WallStreet giveaway - turning Social Security from a guarantee to a gamble."
"The Congressional Budget Office has reported each of the past five yearsthat Social Security will be fully solvent through 2052, and after that willbe 80% funded - able to pay more actual benefits than now. One third of theBush tax cuts for the wealthy, or one-third of the cost of the Iraq War wouldcover the possible shortfall. We have the money," the two point out.
Weiner and Larmett contend, "The real problem is Medicare. Soaringhealthcare costs are driving the entitlement to grow at a rate much fasterthan the U.S. economy. The hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted by2019."
They assert, "We can't keep blindly passing Medicare's costs on to futuregenerations or allow its benefits to whittle down to being nearlymeaningless."
"Health providers block the few real steps Congress attempts, includinglegislation to authorize Medicare to negotiate best rates with pharmaceuticalcompanies and to allow patients to import safe, affordable drugs. Medicalprovider lobbyists for doctors, hospitals, and the drug companies oftenoverride any desire to restrain costs through cheaper treatment with industryself-interest or the perception that more expensive treatments are in order."
Weiner and Larmett conclude that "a national health insurance plan couldabsorb and fix Medicare's problems. Failing that, increases in federalpayments and possibly higher contributions by wealthy beneficiaries may beneeded."
LINK to article:http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/content/opinion/epaper/2008/08/03/a1e_iw_weiner_0803.html
Contact: Bob Weiner/John Larmett, 301-283-0821, or 202-329-1700
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates