Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Will the Social Security and Medicare programs be there for young Americans?

Of course not, and the voting in Democrats that they seem to like to do is making it worse.

Here’s an article from the Daily Signal to tell about it.

Chart first:

Social Security insolvent in 2024

Social Security insolvent in 2024

And now the story:

Social Security’s trustees projected in 1983 that the recently enacted Social Security reforms would keep the program active for at least the next 75 years, through 2058. However, according to research by Rachel Greszler, a senior policy analyst, and James M. Roberts, research fellow for economic freedom and growth at The Heritage Foundation, that approach date has accelerated.

“If the trend since 1983 continues, the program will become insolvent in 2024—34 years earlier than originally projected,” Roberts writes.

Now you might think that the way Democrats appeal to younger voters, that they are taking care of this problem for them.

Well, here’s an article from Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

The White House recently conceded that President Obama’s executive order effectively legalizing an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants means that newly legalized workers will contribute to Social Security and Medicare and be eligible for benefits.

Does the president have any idea how much money his action could cost the country — i.e., taxpayers?

[…]The Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund trustees estimate the two program’s combined long-term unfunded liabilities — the estimated amount the government will have to pay in benefits above what it expects to receive — at about $49 trillion. Obama’s amnesty action greatly exacerbates the problem, because retirees get back far more than they pay in.

[…]Because the U.S. pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits, on average, for each new retiree, whether part of Obama’s amnesty program or not, the president has just vastly worsened the long-term financial condition of the country’s two primary retirement safety nets.

But Obama’s newly legalized workers will impose even heavier losses than Steuerle’s examples.

Most workers pay into the programs for their working careers, between 40 and 50 years. But millions of Obama’s newly legalized are working-age adults with children, so many could be in their 40s or older.

Thus they could pay FICA taxes for the next, say, 15 or 20 years — less than half the average American worker — and be eligible for the full array of Social Security and Medicare benefits.

In addition, most will be lower-income workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that foreign-born, full-time workers earn about 80% of native-born Americans ($33,500 vs. $41,900).

Social Security is a social insurance program and is structured to provide disproportionately more benefits for lower-income workers. Medicare pays the same regardless of how much a worker pays in.

To be sure, these new workers’ entry will likely help the trust funds initially, because most will be paying in rather than taking out.

Under current rules, workers must pay FICA taxes for 40 quarters (10 years total) before being fully eligible for the programs. But within a few decades the oldest will start retiring.

Given the demographic unknowns, estimating the amnesty’s financial cost to our retirement programs — and so to U.S. taxpayers — can only be approximate.

But using a basic simulation model, we believe the government will receive about $500 billion in payroll tax revenue (including Part B and drug premiums), and expect it to pay out some $2 trillion in benefits over several decades.

Yeah, so they are actually making it worse. But hey, at least we have redefined marriage, right?

As if that were not enough, there’s this lovely story from CNS News.

Excerpt:

The Daily Treasury Statement that was released Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 in new debt since fiscal 2015 started just eight weeks ago in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government.

The only way the Treasury could handle the $942,103,000,000 in old debt that matured during the period plus finance the new deficit spending the government engaged in was to roll over the old debt into new debt and issue enough additional new debt to cover the new deficit spending.

This mode of financing the federal government resembles what the Securities and Exchange Commission calls a Ponzi scheme. “A Ponzi scheme,” says the Securities and Exchange Commission, “is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors,” says the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“With little or no legitimate earnings, the schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue,” explains the SEC. “Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.”

Now you might ask yourself – are young people aware of these things? Of course not. What they learn in university is how to escape their repressive religious backgrounds by experimenting with risky, irresponsible sexual behavior. They are not aware of the situation, and when they vote, they vote like they were picking candidates on American Idol. I guess I can understand why young people act stupidly. They are concerned with what the culture tells them to be concerned about, and that’s legal baby-killing, redefining marriage to separate kids from their mom or dad, police shooting people who commit crimes, a nonexistent gender pay gap and global warming. What is appalling to me is when their parents vote Democrat… which is basically voting to have a higher standard of living for themselves, then passing the bill onto to their kids. It’s especially amazing when married women do this to their own kids. What are they thinking?

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Amnesty executive action: illegal immigrants will get Social Security and Medicare

Washington Examiner reports.

Excerpt:

A new clash over retirement benefits has come to a head following President Obama’s decision to unilaterally protect up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

The White House now acknowledges that many of the illegal immigrants spared from deportation under Obama’s sweeping executive action will become eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits once they reach retirement age.

[…]However, Obama was less eager to wade into the debate about what to do with newly protected immigrants now paying into Social Security. He didn’t address the matter while outlining his immigration plan in a prime-time address to the nation, but White House aides later confirmed GOP suspicions about how Obama’s unilateral move would affect retirement benefits.

Analysts said that Republicans would use the admission to argue the president is misleading the public about the details of his immigration action.

“It is a bit of surprise,” said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who focuses on entitlement programs. “For a long time, there was an argument made by the administration that [undocumented immigrants] would not be eligible for such benefits. It does seem to be a contradiction.”

Indeed. But that’s not all.

Fox News reports.

Excerpt:

Businesses reportedly will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers under President Obama’s sweeping action on illegal immigration.

Because of a kink in ObamaCare, businesses will not face a penalty for not providing illegal immigrants health care, The Washington Times reports. Illegal immigrants are ineligible for public benefits such as buying insurance on ObamaCare’s health exchanges.

Congressional aides condemned the loophole saying it puts illegal immigrants ahead of Americans in the job hunt.

“If it is true that the president’s actions give employers a $3,000 incentive to hire those who came here illegally, he has added insult to injury,” Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican told The Washington Times. “The president’s actions would have just moved those who came here illegally to the front of the line, ahead of unemployed and underemployed Americans.”

When stories like this come out, I think back to the elections, when many young Americans who were in college and voting for Obama because he was so cool will have to get the bill for this. Right now, we don’t have to raise taxes to pay for any of this, because Pelosi/Reid/Obama keep adding the spending to the national debt. Pelosi/Reid took over the House and Senate in 2007 when the debt was 8.5 trillion. Since 2007, we’ve added over NINE TRILLION dollars to the national debt – more than doubling it. It’s the young people who keep voting for this massive spending and waste, and thankfully, it’s the young people who will be most impacted by it. There is a price to pay for voting stupidly.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

The Democrat agenda – reducing self-sufficiency and increasing dependency

Two articles, both from Investors Business Daily.

The first explains how Obamacare encourages people to stop working or reduce their work hours in order to get more benefits from the government.

Charles Krauthammer explains:

First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021.

Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily. Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how ObamaCare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions:

“Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

[…]Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.

[…]In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this ObamaCare-induced job loss. Why, ObamaCare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.”

If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. It’s a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work.

In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools — education, training and various incentives — to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility.

In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else. Why those everyone elses should remain at their jobs — hey! I wanna dance, too! — is a puzzle Carney has yet to explain.

So, if you are working, you are going to be taxed more to pay for the leisure (or laziness) of your fellow citizens. And why must the Democrats do this? In order to continue to win elections by getting the votes of people who want you to work harder and longer so that they don’t have to work.

So how much are we paying people to not work or to work less? 

Major welfare programs as of 2012

Major welfare programs as of 2012

Again, Investors Business Daily explains.

Excerpt:

In 2011, the latest year for which we have complete spending data, federal outlays on all means-tested welfare programs targeted for the poor hit $746 billion, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.

But this doesn’t include two of the fastest-growing taxpayer-funded cash subsidies: unemployment insurance and disability, which are not based on one’s income level, so are not considered anti-poverty programs. That’s another $250 billion a year. All told, federal income transfer programs (not including Social Security and Medicare) have hit $1 trillion.

Adding state spending, the Senate Budget Committee found another $257 billion spent each year. The welfare state is now larger than the GDP of 175 of the 190 wealthiest countries.

Astoundingly, if all this spending were simply sent in the form of a check to every household in America living below the poverty level, we could raise each of these family’s incomes not just above the poverty line, but double that level, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. Every poor family of four could have a cash income of $44,000 a year — which in most countries would be princely.

Most Americans probably have no idea how expansive the welfare state is. That’s because the cost is disguised by more than 80 separate means-tested programs counted by the CRS, including cash benefits, health care, social services, food, child care, training, and housing and utility subsidies. They often have overlapping and uncoordinated missions. This explains the vast duplication of effort, with at least 12 programs offering food and nutrition, 18 offering housing assistance, nine offering vocational training, and so on.

In all, just over 100 million Americans now get some form of welfare-based government benefit. This does not include Medicare or Social Security. Obama’s economics team thinks the more the better, because these are programs that “stimulate” the economy.

Oh, and by the way: These numbers do not include the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid, which could add 20 million to the rolls over time. Obama boasts of 5 million more Americans now being eligible for Medicaid under ObamaCare, as if that’s an applause line.

That only leaves the question of who is paying for all this vote-buying today. Well, the money is being borrowed and added to the national debt. And who is going to pay for that? Your children. Especially if you bothered to get married before having children, because those are the children most likely to get the high-paying jobs that our slavemasters in government love to redistribute.

 

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Doctor shortage: how Obamacare makes it harder to find a doctor

Remember how Obama promised that if you liked your doctor, then you could keep your doctor? It turns out that there is more to making policies than just saying what you’d like to do in a scripted campaign speech. The truth is that some health care policies will make you lose your doctor, regardless of what the President reads off of a teleprompter. Is Obamacare one of these policies? Let’s see.

Avik Roy writes about it in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that, due to Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage, among other factors, UnitedHealth expects its network of physicians “to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.” The result? Some retirees enrolled in Medicare Advantage will need to find new doctors. And it’s a trend that could accelerate in future years.

[…]Over the next ten years, Obamacare was designed to spend around $1.9 trillion on expanding health coverage to the uninsured. The law pays for this new spending with $1.2 trillion in new taxes, and $716 billion in cuts to Medicare, relative to prior law.

[…]The private insurers who supply Medicare Advantage plans, like UnitedHealth and Humana, have been responding to the cuts by squeezing out inefficiencies in the way they deliver care. One obvious way to do that is to pay doctors and hospitals less—or kick out the providers who refuse to accept lower reimbursement rates. And that’s what United has done, according to the WSJ report from Melinda Beck.

“Doctors in at least 10 states have received termination letters, some citing ‘significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment,’” writes Beck.

Another one of my favorite health care policy experts is the ex-Canadian Sally C. Pipes, who knows all about the horrors of single-payer health care. It killed her mother! Here’s what she had to say about the doctors shortage in a Forbes magazine article from earlier this year.

The first problem is that we have an aging doctor population and since we do such a poor job of educating our children (public school indoctrination centers) we aren’t making any new ones:

Right now, the United States is short some 20,000 doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The shortage could quintuple over the next decade, thanks to the aging of the American population — and the aging and consequent retirement of many physicians. Nearly half of the 800,000-plus doctors in the United States are over the age of 50.

The second problem is that adding more regulations and burdensome paperwork makes a lot of people not want to be doctors any more:

Obamacare is further thinning the doctor corps. A Physicians Foundation survey of 13,000 doctors found that 60 percent of doctors would retire today if they could, up from 45 percent before the law passed.

The third problem is that the government isn’t reimbursing doctors as much as private insurance companies do, and it makes them refuse to take government-funded patients:

They’ve long limited the number of Medicaid patients they’ll treat, thanks to the program’s low reimbursement rates. According to a study published in Health Affairs, only 69 percent of doctors accepted new Medicaid patients in 2011. In Florida, just 59 percent do so. And a survey by the Texas Medical Association of doctors in the Lone Star State found that 68 percent either limit or refuse to take new Medicaid patients.

Medicaid pays about 60 percent as much as private insurance. For many doctors, the costs of treating someone on Medicaid are higher than what the government will pay them.

These underpayments have grown worse over time, as cash-strapped states have tried to rein in spending on Medicaid. Ohio hasn’t increased payments to doctors in three years; Kentucky hasn’t raised them in two decades. Colorado, Nebraska, South Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, and Arizona all cut payments in 2011.

By throwing nine million more people into the program without fixing this fatal flaw, Obamacare will make it even harder for Medicaid patients to find doctors.

It’s not just Medicaid that’s the problem, either. It’s the government-controlled exchanges.

Healthcare providers are signaling that they may turn away patients who purchase insurance through the exchanges, too.

In California, for example, folks covered by Blue Shield’s exchange plan will have access to about a third of its physician network. The UCLA Medical Center and its doctors are available to customers of just one plan for sale through the state exchange, Covered California. And the prestigious Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is not taking anyone with exchange insurance.

Now I know what you’re thinking – why not just force doctors to work for lower wages, like a good socialist country might? Well, that actually makes the shortage worse, because people don’t like to learn hard things and then work hard for little pay. And doctors work VERY hard – it’s not an easy profession to get into. That will just make all the doctors leave the country for other countries where they can be paid fairly for the work they do.

And in fact that is exactly what happened in a 100% socialized health care system in Venezuela, according to this report from the left-leaning Associated Press.

Excerpt:

Half the public health system’s doctors quit under Chavez, and half of those moved abroad, Natera said.

Now, support staff is leaving, too, victim of a wage crunch as wages across the economy fail to keep up with inflation.

At the Caracas blood bank, Lopez said 62 nurses have quit so far this year along with half the lab staff. It now can take donations only on weekday mornings.

I recommend reading that entire article for a glimpse of where the Democrats are trying to take us. There is not a dime’s worth of difference on policy between the Democrat party and the socialist party of Venezuela, except that the socialists have been in control in Venezuela for longer, and so they are further along the road to serfdom.

In other news, the Washington D.C. insurance commissioner was fired after raising concerns about the “fix” proposed by Obama in his speech last week. That’s also something that you might expect to see in a country like Venezuela. That’s what happens in authoritarian socialist countries. Whistleblowers and critics just disappear.

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New study from the Federal Reserve finds that QE stimulus doesn’t grow the economy

Investors Business Daily reports on our incompetent government’s policies.

Excerpt:

For four years now, we’ve heard policymakers and pundits alike defend the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing based on the idea that, without it, the nation’s economy would have imploded.

Now, a new study from the Fed itself suggests that’s not the case.

The study, by San Francisco Federal Reserve economist Vasco Curdia and New York Fed economist Andrea Ferrero, suggests that quantitative easing (QE) has done little to boost the economy’s trajectory.

“Asset purchase programs like QE2 appear to have, at best, moderate effects on economic growth and inflation,” the economists wrote in a special research note that was released last week.

In their study, Curdia and Ferrero looked specifically at the impact of the Fed’s QE2 program, which totaled $600 billion.

Assuming the $600 billion program lasts for five years — with the Fed buying bonds the first year, holding them for two, then selling them off for the remaining two — the spending turns out largely to have been a waste.

That level of QE stimulus, even when coupled with the Fed’s promise to hold interest rates at zero, likely boosted GDP by a mere 0.13 percentage point, the study found. It added just 0.03 percentage point to inflation.

Bottom line: $600 billion in QE2 spending boosted GDP by less than $200 billion.

[…]And even that minor amount of growth was due in large part to the Fed’s explicit vow to hold official interest rates at close to 0% until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5% or lower, Curdia and Ferrero said.

Take away that promise, and QE2 added just 0.04 percentage point to GDP and 0.02 percentage point to inflation.

What caused it?

With $17 trillion in total U.S. debt — an amount that’s now growing at a rate of $1 trillion a year — the authors argue that the Fed is essentially trapped into printing money through QE.

If QE — which now pushes $85 billion a month into U.S. Treasury and agency debt — stops, interest rates will soar, dragging the economy down.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been sanguine about this, suggesting this enormous pile of debt can all be sold off with little disruption.

We’re not so sure. Once the Fed begins selling off its massive $3.6 trillion in assets acquired under the QE program (see chart), it will send interest rates surging and tank the economy.

Even more troubling is what it says about current politics.

The White House and a Democrat-led Senate have boosted spending dramatically — outlays as a share of GDP rose initially by 25% under President Obama

The Fed, by buying up much of the newly issued federal debt, has become the No. 1 enabler of a spendthrift government that’s pushing us to the brink of fiscal disaster.

At $85 billion a month, QE2 spending is roughly equal to the amount of federal debt we add each month.

We elected a Keynesian who thought that government could create economic growth (jobs!) by borrowing money and printing money. The countries of the world largely cheered our decision to elect him. He failed to grow the economy and he failed to create jobs. Eventually, the money he’s been spending to keep a sinking ship afloat is going to run out.

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