Topic of the Week: entitlement reform

So let’s talk about entitlement spending, since Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to “reform” Medicaid and Medicare have made big news nationally over the past month or so.

How would you reform entitlement spending?


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47 thoughts on “Topic of the Week: entitlement reform

  1. 1. Remove the cap on Social Security taxes, so Ron Johnson pays the same 6.2% of income toward SS that I do.

    2. Lower the Social Security age to 55 and lower the benefits for all recipients. Cost would be about the same, but it also allows older workers the flexibility to take Social Security earler, instead of having to look for work at age 60 and ending up out on the streets with no pension or other earnings (far too common today).

    3. Medicare for all. The extra costs of this would be largely offset by the lower insurance costs and uncertainty for private employers, and lessens what state and local taxpayers would have to pay for public employees.

    It’s not really that hard, you just have to want to do it.

    1. Jake, I thought Zach was asking for reforms. Half of your ideas make the problem even worse. Social Security age should be raised now that people are living far longer. When age 65 was instituted, most people were dying before reaching that age, so the original intent of SS was to provide for old widows without any other means of support.

      I find it interesting that public employees fought tooth and nail for a 0% contribution to a pension system that invests that money and provides a good return. Yet many of you are absoultely against allowing indivuals the option to invest a portion of their own SS money to generate a better return, citing fears of the stock market wiping away those funds. Please tell me why you are comfortable with this for public pensions, but not Social Security?

      I think the whole idea of SS is archaic and needs to be reevaluated, which won’t happen now that so many boomers will be retiring and sucking it dry. It’s a shame.

      1. Social Security age should be raised now that people are living far longer

        The upper middle class is living slightly longer, but not the people who depend on Social Security in their retirement.

        1. But EVERYONE receives Social Security, whether upper, middle, or lower class.

          Also, “Between 1980 and 2000, the life expectancy for the least fortunate increased 1.7 years, from 73.0 to 74.7.” (Economic Policy Institute, Growing Disparities in Life Expectancy, 7/16/2008).

          But aside from that, back in 1940, other avenues of retirement savings like 401k were not available. The average person did not participate in the stock market, like they do today. This program is stuck in early 20th century thinking.

          1. The average person did not participate in the stock market, like they do today

            Uh huh. The same people who’s life expectancy is not increasing also don’t have 401Ks or stocks.

            1. So you want to make this a program of redistribution of wealth even more than it already is?

              1. Social Security taxes are the most regressive of them all. The poor have been paying higher rates for more than 30 years, and now fatcat factory owner Ron Johnson wants to pocket the difference he gained with the Bushie tax cuts.

                1. I must have missed the Democrat fatcats like Kohl and Kerry passing legislation to make it less regressive.

  2. I’ll agree when it comes to removing the cap on Social Security taxes, because there’s something patently unfair about me having to pay SS taxes on 100% of my income while a millionaire like Ron Johnson pays SS taxes on a percentage of his income that’s much less than 100%.

    1. Or a millionaire like Herb Kohl? Not sure why you have to throw Johnson’s name in there, or does ol’ Herb pay 100% on his? If you lift that cap, would their SS benefits be based on their entire incomes and contributions too?

    2. Zach, the caps on ss are irrelevant because every administration loots ss to pay for other programs.

      We would actually have a surplus in ss had prior administrations kept the funds for SS in ss. ThE problem is that beginning in 2016 ss will start paying out more than it paid in.

      1. Which is why we should have listened to former VP Al Gore when he suggested putting SS funds in a lockbox….

        1. I’m not sure what the details of gores plan were but there is a lot of merit to a lock box scenario where the funds in ss can only be used for ss.

          The problem of looting goes beyond partisan politics as both sides have continuously be guilty of it.

          so in initial response to your question. require social security taxes only to be used for ss. then asses where we are in the budget. If that’ts not enough funding raise the age of ss. i believe that’s more fair than raising the funds from future generations for the simple reason is that the current retiring generations allowed the funds to be diverted.

  3. But would not millionaires like HERB KOHL(D) and RUSS FEINGOLD(D) also pay less then middle class people like me? If we are going to do anything with SS it shoud be raised to 68 min or even 70. Then as for entitlements the WISCONSIN QUEST CARD should require a picture ID to use and also the user should be able to pass a drug test. Then when it comes to eligibility the number of kids you could claim should be capped at 3, this would possible prevent those who have 7 kids by 5 different fathers having them just to increase their entitlement amount.

      1. If you are trying to tell me that a career politician like Russ Fiengold pays the same taxes as a middle class state taxpayer, someone who is trying to make it pay day to pay day as he has to not only support his family but also state workers families, my friend you are not going to get that dog to hunt.

  4. Scrap the Cap! a no-brainer. This is social security… social… the nation.

    Sixty-five should be the age for social security- say whatever you want Name Forgetter but people need to be able to elect to be a productive citizen in whatever way they choose by sixty-five. Jobs are not the end all/be all of a person’s value to society.

    Although SS is an entitlement for all citizens, I am amazed at how many people who don’t need it take it.

    1. Palli, you are amazed that people who don’t “need” it, take it? That’s what an entitlement is! Define “need.” Sure I suppose some people could get by without taking it, but if they can give more money to their grandchildren or go on a vacation with the SS check, why not, right? People feel they are entitled to the benefit, because they spent their entire lives paying into the system, and are entitled to get the money back. If we created individual accounts for everyone that were invested (instead of government IOUs), that might actually be true.

      Why is 65 the magic number for you? Just because that’s what the government came up with in 1940, doesn’t mean it makes sense forever.

  5. dear forgot- I know it is a quaint idea but a society should share.
    “You measure a government by how few people need to be helped.” Patricia S. Schroeder Actually I say: You measure a culture by how few people need to be helped.”

    Frankly, greed and selfishness are shame human traits…

  6. Forgot and Notalib, both of you apparently need to cultivate friends in “lower” places in the real world.

    1. Palli, don’t lecture me. You don’t know where I came from, where I am now, or who my friends are. My parents struggled, but they made sacrifices. Too often I see today’s “poor” with video games, cell phones, and big screen TVs.

      How about the guy who just won the lottery, but doesn’t feel bad about using foodstamps. You might say that is an extreme example, but it’s what an entitlement society gets you. I am all for a safety net, but it seems like some people just want more and more. I am also for a society that shares; I just don’t believe in government confiscating and deciding how to redistribute it.

      1. “My parents struggled…but they made sacrifices.” Next thing Forgot will say is “some of my best friends are poor”.

        Forgot says I see the “poor”….
        But is he invited home to their gated communities or their penthouse apartments? Does he play golf with them at the exclusive country club? Sit next to them at a $120 dollar a seat shows? Eat chicken dinner with them at a $20,000 political benefit? Skydive with them on Sunday afternoon? Go out to dinner and drinks in the evening? Seat next to them in the pews on Saturday or Sunday?

        Don’t judge how others spend their money, if you haven’t studied the costs.

  7. By the way we pay Into SS, so its not really an entitlement program any more than my savings or checking accounts are entitlement programs….the problem is Paul ryan thinks Wall st is entitled to my SS

    1. You mean the same way that public employees believe Wall Street is entitled to their pensions? I suppose we could leave that money sitting around not generating any sort of return, if that’s what you prefer. Then you wouldn’t be investing in any “evil” companies and could sleep at night with a far lower pension balance.

      How does Paul Ryan think Wall St is entitled to Social Security? Oh you mean the idea of giving people the OPTION to invest a portion of that money? In fact you just said that it was similar to your savings or checking account. I thought liberals were supposedly pro-choice?

      But Social Security IS an entitlement program in that you do not have an individual savings account. The government taxes you, uses that money for other things, then starts giving you checks long down the road, far more than you have been taxed. It would be different if the government set up a personal SS account for you and contributed directly to it.

      1. “Then you wouldn’t be investing in any “evil” companies and could sleep at night with a far lower pension balance.
        The fact is Wall St. did provide “a far lower pension balance” and retirees lost during this downturn. Besides their money wasn’t really invested by them it was invested by money managers with little input from them- just a kind of blind trust in an Eronian system.

        1. So do you propose ending the current WI pension system and making it more like the Social Security model?

      2. I am pro-choice but we have none on wall st. Wall st’s blatant greed and lack of ethics just crashed our economy badly and what happened? Paul ryan and his friends threw billions of our dollars at them and when the democratic congress tried to slap them on the wrist it brought Boehner to tears.

        So we really have no choice what we do with the pittance of money we invest in our 401ks really. SO when priavtize ryan talks all the old people into investing in the stock market and they suck all of their money down, then who pays???

        1. Jeff, let’s be realistic. No one is talking about the current elderly investing anything. Let’s talk about the future and modernizing the system.

          Also, I seem to remember Obama supporting the Wall Street bailout too as well as the auto bailout and housing markets, so he is one of Paul Ryan’s “friends” that you speak of?

  8. Spending is not the problem. Why not drastically increase taxes on the top income brackets, and marginally increase taxes on lower brackets, to sustain our current programs?

    1. spending is the problem. by 2029 100% of the us budget is spent on medicaid,medicare, ss, and interest payments. you could raise taxes to 100% on the top 10% and we still couldn”t pay off our obligations.

      so the only solution is cut those three programs or defualt on the interest payments. if we have any hope at all, we need make dramtic cuts to those programs and have drastic tax increases. botrh options are politically unfavoravable so we are pretty much screwed.

      1. Interest payments aren’t an entitlement program, and they’re entirely correctable if we repeal the Bush-era tax cuts, along with a few other spending cuts, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those three things alone contributed more to our national debt than TARP or the stimulus.

    2. Hermes, where do you guys end with tax increases to solve every problem? If taxes are a percentage of incomes, why would taxes ever need to be raised. By voicing support for tax increases, you have just admitted the programs are unsustainable at current levels. You can’t raise taxes enough to support the programs the way they are going. Wake up, it is time for REFORM.

      1. Forgothiscreename is absolutely right! Wake-up, it’s time for reform!

        Implementing Medicare for All could save 400 billion dollars annually in administrative costs alone.

        The resultant power to negotiate prices with health care providers, just as private health insurance companies currently do, will also greatly help toward balancing future budgets and everyone can continue to go to the provider of their choice, just like your parents and grandparents currently do.

        The California Nurses Association has estimated that Medicare for All will create 2 million new jobs, a 1.5 million job gain beyond the estimated loss of 400,000 to 500,000 jobs in the health insurance industry. This will greatly boost future tax revenues to further erode national debt and annual deficit spending.

        The only losers in this scenario are overpaid CEO’s and shareholders, both of whom are free to go make profits in some other industry.

        MEDICARE REFORM NOW, you bet! Extend it to everyone!

  9. Military spending could be cut by bringing home all troops. We don’t need bases in Germany or England. We don’t need to be in Japan or South Korea. We do need to protect our borders especially the southern border. We should not scale back on development of new weapons and we should increase the pay of the men and women who serve. There should be no taxpayer support of the arts, there should be drastic cuts to foreign aid, there are so many wasteful reserch projects for example $1.9 million for California Academy of Sciences to send researchers to the Southwest Indian Islands and east Africa to study Ants,$700,000 to study why monkeys respond negatively to inequity,$760,000 to Georgia Tech to study improvised music, there are just so many ways to cut the budget.

    But don’t worry people there is no politician alive that will do that. Its all a huge game to them. Look good in front of the cameras and then sit back and do nothing once behind close doors

  10. Anyone who trusts the private sector and Wall Street greedheads with their retirement security is a fool who deserves to go broke in old age.

    Having the safety net of some kind of income that’s not required by working after age 55 allows people to take more chances with their careers. It also makes the economy a whole lot more stable for the Ron Johnsons of the world (with returns that more than make up for the extra taxes those guys should pay for Social Security- they’re some of the biggest beneficiaries of it), and frees up discretionary income for people to invest, because they know they can afford to lose.

    Making all medical insurance non-profit and service-oriented takes care of a whole lot of other budget issues, and makes it rather easy to keep these needed programs funded and stable. And stability’s much more preferable than leaving it up to a Wall Street casino.

    Forgot and notalib are typical posers who think bad things will never happen to them. And limited people like them are EXACTLY the ones it’ll happen to.

    1. Anyone who trusts government with their retirement security is a fool.

      Jake, so would you say that the public employees and their unions are fools for trusting Wall Street with their retirement security (a.k.a their pensions)? It is pretty hypocritical to say what is somehow good for public employees is bad for the rest of America. Please Explain.

      P.S. Thanks for resorting to namecalling just because I have a different view. That definitely encourages an open flow of thoughtful debate.

      1. forgot- There’s still a flat rate for public employees in terms of where their money goes in the EFT funds, and the only comparison to Social Security is that the ETF funds are contributed to by current public-sector workers, NOT THE GENRAL TAXPAYER like SS and Medicare, so your lame misdirection play has no value there.

        And I love how trolls like you whine about “namecalling” all the time. It’s called being held accountable for your words and actions. If my reactions hurt your pwecious fee-wings, then STOP SPREAING LIES AND MISDIRECTIONS, cause we ain’t going to let you get away with this garbage.

        1. Jake, you said anyone who trusts Wall St with their retirement security is a fool, so I don’t see how it is not a fair comparison. If the SS model is so great, I think that’s what should happen with the public pension funds too, so that the funds are “safe.” But see, the public pension IS safe, so why couldn’t something like that happen with SS? At least give people the choice.

          And actually you got the comparison wrong, currently most public-sector workers are not contributing to their pensions (until the Walker bill gets settled in court). The general taxpayer is the receipient of SS and Medicare, so again, it is a fair comparison.

          I don’t see why I am automatically lying and misdirecting as you say, simply because I have a different view. I do not agree with your view, but I don’t think you are lying. That’s just your opinion. You didn’t hurt my feelings one bit, but I don’t see the value in calling me a poser and a liar, just because I challenge your views. You can hold me accountable for my words, without attacking me personally. If everyone agreed, that would be really boring, but maybe you feel more vindicated if you only associate with those who nod their heads in agreement.

  11. Really Jake? In 2001 I lost my job, know what I did first thing was signup for unemployment, second went out to the local college and registered for classes. I got a job in I started school one month later and had a job with a Fortune 500 Company by August….I did not sit around and use unemployment as a lifestyle choice. Then in 2008 my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, in 2009 I had a small heart attack, we have had bad things happen to us Jake and because we both worked hard to provide a better life for ourselves we had jobs that offered insurance. I guess we could have taken that fork in the road that democrats so often encourage others too do, the Entitlement EXPRESSWAY but instead we took the other fork PERSONAL RESPONSIBLE WAY and decided to be responsible for our lives and our life choices.

    1. Nota, you may have been unemployed in 2001, but this isn’t 2001. Jobs aren’t as easy to come by as they were in 2001, and while it may be hard for you to believe given your biases, not everyone who collects unemployment for more than a few months is simply using the program as a “lifestyle choice.”

  12. “Bush-Era Tax Cuts Projected As Largest Contributor To Public Debt [CHART]”

    “If the Bush-era tax cuts are renewed next year, that policy will by 2019 be the single largest contributor to the nation’s public debt — “the sum of annual budget deficits, minus annual surpluses” — according to new analysis from the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

    According to the CBPP, simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule would stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio for the next decade.”

    Now, IF only we could turn back the hands of time, and have never gone into Iraq. . .

    The discussion shouldn’t so much be about “entitlement reform” as in avoiding disastrous, enormously costly Republican ideas/mistakes that ironically ultimately give Republicans a cynical excuse to attack programs to which they have always been philosophically opposed.

    1. No irony there, don’t you suppose those Republican ideas were not mistakes; they were the means to the end.

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