Medicare

Putting the "Fun" Back in "Unfunded Liability"

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Texas A&M's Thomas Saving, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis and a former Public Trustee of the Medicare trust fund, has put together a useful set of slides comparing the headline numbers from year's Medicare and Social Security Trustees Report with last year's: According to the official estimates (which almost certainly undersell the bad news) total unfunded liabilities for America's two big entitlements are a hair above $59 trillion. In the 75 year window, the total liability is just a shade over $33 trillion, up 10 percent from last year. And these projections assume that big cuts to provider payments to occur. How likely is it those cuts actually occur? Given that the Trustees say those cuts would almost certainly cause "Congress to intervene" on account of "severe problems with beneficiary access," I'd say the answer is "not very." 

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  1. Can we say $59,000,000,000,000 instead? It seems like otherwise people don’t really grasp it.

  2. “In the 75 year window, the total liability is just a shade over $33 trillion, up 10 percent from last year. And these projections assume that big cuts to provider payments to occur. How likely is it those cuts actually occur?”

    The next time you hear some baby-boomer telling you about how the government needs to impose coercive solutions to stave off a global warming crisis 30 years from now? Remember that you’re probably talking to someone who hasn’t done anything to save for their own retirement–which is right around the corner.

    But, hey, at least they’ll have Social Security and Medicare to fall back on!

    *guffaws*

    1. Anthropogenic Entitlement Underfunding is not a hoax!

      1. Sadly, it’s not.

    2. I have to say: I don’t want to pay for granny’s comfy retirement. She had years to save. If she didn’t, that’s her fault.

      Responsibility is the bane of social-security-mattress-ers

      1. Doktor Kapitalism|5.13.11 @ 6:18PM|#
        “I have to say: I don’t want to pay for granny’s comfy retirement. She had years to save. If she didn’t, that’s her fault.”

        Disagreed, to some extent anyway.
        Dear old Mom and Dad paid for my sorry butt for nearly two decades, and only griped when I made a real fool of myself.
        As it turns out, they saved enough that it didn’t cost me a lot to make sure they were comfortable until I lost them.
        But if it *had* cost me (us, actually) a lot, well, tough stuff; they covered me, I get to cover them. Or let the government do it for me while I buy nice dinners.

        1. I think there are a few reasonable ways (barring a medical condition reducing your parents to dependency) to look at the issue. One extreme is that the eighteen years of raising a child is the debt parents owe to their children, or that the proper way to discharge the child’s debt is to pay it forward to their children. This is mostly the way I plan to approach it with my kids. The other is the way you (sevo) describe it: something the grown children owe back in part to their parents.
          In general, I think that the unique relationship between a parent and dependent child prevents a debt from forming; only responsible adults can accumulate debt and in this case the parents are the ones with the obligation to raise their children. We can also reasonably expect them to be responsible adults and plan financially for later in life. Personally, I also want my kids to focus on developing their kids rather than taking care of me since their kids will have a lot more potential to develop at that point.
          Now, if there’s a catastrophe that drains away our savings, I suppose I will ask them to help. Actually, I hope that we will have developed such a relationship that we don’t have to ask. I certainly think that these issues should be handled at the lowest level possible, namely the family.

      2. “I have to say: I don’t want to pay for granny’s comfy retirement. She had years to save. If she didn’t, that’s her fault.

        Responsibility is the bane of social-security-mattress-ers”

        I think the best argument against Social Security and Medicare is the effect it’s had on the care of our elderly.

        I lived in a country where they didn’t have Social Security and Medicare like we do, and you know what people do there?

        They take care of their own parents. Not taking care of your own parents to them? Is like the way we think of people who don’t feed or house their own children.

        There are elderly people out there who the average person genuinely is unequipped to care for. There are elderly people with late stage Alzheimers and other conditions, who require 24 hour monitoring–and not everybody can handle that at home…

        I’m not talking about them.

        But Social Security and Medicare took every elderly person’s legitimate desire not to be a burden to their children? And turned it into the most egregious, widespread example of moral hazard there is.

        If people couldn’t unload their parents on the taxpayer, they’d take care of their own parents. That’s the way it’s done everywhere that doesn’t have something like Social Security and Medicare.

        When you talk to people from outside of the developed world about Americans, there’s two stereotypes about us that freak people out and that are absolutely true:

        1) We let dogs in our houses, and some people sleep with them.

        2) You hardly ever see any elderly people in public because we ship them off for strangers to take care of them.

        Elderly people want their independence; I appreciate that. But leaving them for the government to take care of–because of Social Security and Medicare? Is like paying welfare queens more money to have more babies. Social Security and Medicare encourage us to abandon our parents–and giving our parents a place to live and food to eat is our responsibility when they’re too old to work for a living.

        Getting rid of social security and Medicare would do wonders for family cohesion too. How much better would parents treat their kids if they thought they were going to need them to take care of them when they got old? How much better would we teach our children to take care of their grandparents if we thought our quality of life in old age depended on it?

        1. I lived in a country where they didn’t have Social Security and Medicare like we do, and you know what people do there?

          They take care of their own parents. Not taking care of your own parents to them? Is like the way we think of people who don’t feed or house their own children.

          Do you have any idea what this would do to my lifestyle… my career?

          What of compassionate government?

        2. We let dogs in our houses, and some people sleep with them.

          What’s this “we” shit, white man?

          When I moved to the Northwest, I noticed that people took their dogs into coffee shops and small cafes and shit. I thought, “Wow, that person’s dog is really well behaved”.

          Now I see it everywhere, even grocery stores. It’s gotten out of hand and now it annoys me.

          You know another thing that annoys me? Is this whole ‘service animal’ inflation thing that’s going on.

          Every anxiety-ridden old biddy with a yap dog now takes it into every public establishment there is. She’s not blind. She’s not handicapped. She’s walking around like anyone else there, but she’s got a ‘service pet’ who helps keeps her nerves from jingling and jangling when she has some fucked up anxiety attack.

          Someone even came into the ER where my wife works with a service ‘chicken’. I shit you not.

          I say fuck this service animal shit. If you’re not blind, the animal stays outside.

          Only blind people get service dogs. That is all.

          1. I totally agree, man.

          2. Regardless, the observation that many of us treat our dogs better than our elderly parents is disturbing.

            It being socially acceptable for dogs to shit in the backyard probably helps them some, but when unwanted dogs have access to government funding, a lot more of them end up at a government financed pound too.

            This is basically the animal rights argument for no-kill shelters: because the pound can always make more room at the shelter, there’s always room for more dogs at the pound. If the government stopped giving people’s dogs a free ride, people would take more responsibility for their dogs.

            It’s the same thing with Social Security and Medicare–most egregious and widespread example of moral hazard ever! It’s changed us as a society too–we didn’t used to have a society that was so sanitized of the elderly.

            If we live long enough, almost all of us will end up in a nursing home too. Treat your kids as well as you want, but people respond to price signals–and the government through nursing home reimbursement via Medicare is actively encouraging your children to put you in a nursing home.

        3. 2) You hardly ever see any elderly people in public because we ship them off for strangers to take care of them.

          I dunno where you live, but I’ve never lived anywhere where old people in cars, rascals, walkers, you name it weren’t a fucking hazard, they were so omnipresent.

    3. Native American proverb: “We don’t inherit the Earth from our grandparents, we borrow it from our grandchildren.

      Modern American proverb: “We don’t borrow money from our grandchildren, our grandchildren inherit our debts.”

  3. I read this as “Put the Fun Bags in Unfunded Liability.”

    1. …which sounds like an excellent idea. Boobs don’t fix too many things, but they do make most anything more tolerable.

      1. Nancy Pelosi?

      2. It certainly didn’t work for Congress. Of course, we’ve probably never had a Congress without boobs, so who knows?

  4. Should be interesting to see how that turns out. Wow.

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