Maybe it would be best to let the Sequestration spending cuts to take effect. It appears that elected politicians are unable to make significant cuts to any specific federal spending items.If cuts could be prioritized, here would be my short list in order of priority:
- The Medicare eligibility age should be coupled with Social Security and they both should be gradually moved to age 70. The federal government should not be responsible to pay for 15 – 30 years of retirement for healthy adults. (see below)
- Freeze the dollar amount of federal spending on Medicaid – block grant the money to the states and let States decide on the priorities. There will always be more demand than there is supply for free medical care.
- Cut military spending, in actual dollars, by at least 5%. Let the defense department decide on priorities to give us the best defense that the budget can buy. We would still have greatest defense on Earth.
- Eliminate the Dept. of Education – leave education to the states entirely.
- Limit farm subsidies to $50,000 per farmer maximum, $100,000 per family maximum. Phase out all subsidies for farmers who have a Adjusted Gross Income between $100,000 and $200,000. Require 100% of the cost of crop insurance to be charged to the farmers. Why do we keep paying subsidies to farmers when they have record profits? Something is wrong.
- Cut the FEMA budget by 50%, and make States pay a 50% co-insurance payment for all federal money that flows into any State. States would be much more efficient, and there would be much less abuse and fraud.
- Eliminate subsidies and special tax breaks for all forms of energy. All energy producers fight to protect their subsidies by claiming that the other forms of energy get subsidies and all they want is a fair playing field. Well, lets make the playing field very fair – no subsidies for anyone.
- Eliminate spending on arts, and humanities, public broadcasting, etc. Contributions to these kinds of organizations should be left to charitable organizations.
I’m sure the list would be different and much larger if I took enough additional time.
According to data compiled by the Social Security Administration:
- A man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 83.
- A woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 85.
And those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95.
Kurt, I found your prioritized list of cuts very interesting and quite well thought out. And, as an added bonus, I take no serious exception to it. However, I was disappointed by what appears to be your attempt (at the bottom of your post) to skew the thinking of your more mathematically-challenged readers. The statistics that you cite after, “And those are just averages…” are irrelevant because they’ve already been factored into the average life expectancies of men (83) and women (85) who reach age 65 today. For example, for every man who begins receiving social security benefits at age 65 and lives until age 90 (seven years longer than the average life expectancy for men), there’s a corresponding man who only receives his social security benefits until he dies at age 76 (seven years shy of the average life expectancy for men). This is simply to say that the average life expectancies of those who reach age 65 are what they are, and cherry-picking second-level statistics can serve only to elicit an emotional response favorable to one’s position. Finally, it should be noted that there are millions of men and women who paid into social security but died before age 65, thus never receiving a penny of what would have been due them — these people, presumably, weren’t included in the study from which your statistics were derived.
John, I’ve occasionally repeated the quote, “There are liars, there are damn liars, and then there are statistics.” You are right. Some people die without collecting any benefits. Some will die within a few month or few years after starting to collect. I presume that this particular “average” is the median – the point where half are above and half are below the average. There is no objective age at which we should start providing social security. The age was 65 for many many years and has now moved up to age 67 for those born in 1960 and after. The Medicare benefit has remained at age 65. From what I read, the average person going on Medicare today at age 65 will receive from 2 to 3 times the dollar amount of benefit compared to what he or she paid in. Currently, the shortfall is going to increase our debt and is an immoral burden on future generations. What do we do about that? There is no easy answer. Thanks for you thoughtful comment my friend.
Kurt, I forgot to ask you a question regarding your idea of gradually moving the eligibility age for both Social Security and Medicare to age 70. Specifically, would your recommendation apply to me (nearly age 60)? My eligibility age for full Social Security benefits has already been moved back one year to age 66. Do you believe that people in my general age group should be subject to the changes you advocate?
John, I do not think we should raise the retirement age for people born before 1960. All should be subject to how cost of living is calculated. All should be subject to means testing that might subject more of the benefit to income tax. Thanks again.