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AARP to Super Committee: Screw Our Grandkids Or Else!

October 17th, 2011 . by economistmom

I find this AARP ad campaign so offensive.  They threaten policymakers with their 50 million votes if any of them dares to include reforms to Social Security or Medicare as part of longer-term deficit reduction.  AARP’s point?  From their website touting the ad:

AARP’s new national television ad tells lawmakers to cut waste and tax loopholes, not Social Security and Medicare. It urges lawmakers not to treat seniors like line items in a budget and lets them know that 50 million seniors are counting on them to protect their benefits.

Cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits could:

  • dramatically increase health care costs for seniors and future retirees.
  • threaten seniors’ access to doctors and hospitals.
  • reduce the benefit checks seniors rely on to pay their bills.

Why do I hate this ad?  For the same reasons my entire organization, The Concord Coalition, explained today in this statement:

“This is the kind of tactic and rhetoric AARP has condemned in the past,” said former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, co-chairman of The Concord Coalition’s Board of Directors.  “Since hollowing out the rest of the budget to pay for expanding entitlements would result in more uninsured, undereducated and unemployed Americans, AARP has taken an approach which can only and honestly be described as generational warfare.  By its actions AARP has put at risk the strong inter-generational support for Social Security and Medicare.”

Concord Executive Director Robert L. Bixby added:“With its size and influence, AARP could be a powerful voice for reasonable reforms to establish a more sustainable fiscal path. Instead, it has chosen to be part of the problem by insisting that all sacrifices must be borne by someone else.

“AARP knows full well that benefits have been changed in the past and will have to change in the future. Most of the changes that have been widely discussed would not affect today’s seniors at all. Even worse, the ad perpetuates the false notion that our nation’s unsustainable fiscal outlook is merely a product of ‘waste and loopholes.’ AARP’s intransigent position will make realistic solutions all the more difficult.”

All options must be on the table to solve our nation’s fiscal problems. This includes domestic discretionary programs and defense, both of which have already been slated for cuts, as well as taxes and the major entitlement programs. Concord has long been critical of all attempts to exclude any part of the budget from scrutiny for two main reasons. First, exemptions increase the burden on those parts of the budget that remain on the table. Second, exemptions for some programs or taxes run counter to the concept of shared sacrifice and thus make necessary compromises more difficult to achieve.

Concord agrees that seniors should not be unfairly targeted in deficit reduction efforts. Any benefit changes should be phased in to prevent sudden disruptions for retirees and to give workers time to adjust and prepare for them. That, however, is a far cry from granting a blanket exemption to the nation’s two largest entitlement programs, which together comprise roughly one-third of the federal budget…

As the super committee considers its options, The Concord Coalition urges that all options remain on the table. Just as ignoring the need for more revenues is unrealistic, pretending that we can exempt important and popular programs like Social Security and Medicare from scrutiny is a good way to ensure that our fiscal problems will never be solved.

Oh, I also think it’s an offensive ad because I don’t believe most AARP members would actually agree with the AARP’s position to keep Social Security and Medicare completely “off the table” if they understood it was just insuring that even more of the burden of the debt and its negative effects on economic well-being would be shifted to their kids and grandkids.  We need a counterad to this one.  Instead of angry old, menacing people shaking their fists and threatening to vote against fiscally responsible politicians, let’s see some crying babies who have no political voice but through their parents and grandparents.

I still haven’t joined AARP (got my first invitation at 49 although I thought it wasn’t supposed to start until 50), but this certainly doesn’t endear them to me–discounts or no discounts.

25 Responses to “AARP to Super Committee: Screw Our Grandkids Or Else!”

  1. comment number 1 by: reflectionephemeral

    The AARP is correct.

    Social Security is just fine. As was pointed out recently, “Social Security is solvent for the next 26 years. It could be solvent for the next century if we raised the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. That ceiling is now $106,800.”

    There are other things we could do to address SS’s long-term shortfall. Regardless, we shouldn’t be cutting SS to deal with the long-term debt problem. It’s deeply misleading to talk about “Medicare and Social Security” as the drivers of the long-term budget problem when the problem lies with Medicare, not SS.

    And the long-term budget problem with Medicare is health care costs, a problem for the entire US economy, not a problem exclusive to Medicare. If we cut Medicare without trying to bring out health care costs in line with the rest of the planet, we’re simply shifting the burden onto seniors. It’s not much of a policy response.

    As you can see in these charts, the CBO has pointed out that “[t]he bulk of that projected increase in health care spending [on Medicare and Medicaid] reflects higher costs per beneficiary rather than an increase in the number of beneficiaries associated with an aging population.” This even though Medicare & Medicaid have actually done a better job at cost control than private insurers. And, of course, even though we over twice the OECD average per capita on health care, we don’t seem to get any better results than the rest of the world.

    The long-term debt problem is health care costs. Focusing on “Medicare” is ducking that issue. The AARP happens to be correct, even if they are obviously self-interested here.

  2. comment number 2 by: Arne

    AARP is not correct.

    As reflectionephemeral describes SS and Medicare are not in the same condition.

    Supporters of SS and Medicare should avoid asserting that we have “earned” benefits. The term means different things to different people, and the failure to agree on terms is a roadblock to reaching resolution.

    I think supporters also need to come to grips with the meaning of “cutting benefits”. If alll that SS or Medicare needed to do was provide the same services as people have today, we would have less of a problem, but as the economy grows and productivity increases, we can expect that we will want more medical services (and a stronger social safety net).

    The problem is not whether to cut existing services, it is whether to cut the rate of growth. If people realize they are really asking for more, perhaps they will be willing to pay more for it. Or perhaps they will decide it is not worth that much more.

  3. comment number 3 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    This would be more properly posted in the previous thread, but Democrat Doug Schoen has a warning for EconMom:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204479504576637082965745362.html

    ————–quote————-
    …the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people—and particularly with swing voters who are largely independent and have been trending away from the president since the debate over health-care reform.

    The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

    Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn’t represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
    ————-endquote————-

  4. comment number 4 by: Jason Seligman

    I think that we need to think more holistically about the needs of elder Americans in light of current changes in the savings and employer savings/pension and medical coverage picture.

    Those needs must be met by some combination of private and public actions. Including the revenue side considerations pointed out by in the first post regarding the TaxMax. As for generational warfare, since SS reforms ALWAYS come with big ‘grandfather’ clauses – the dynamics of elders protecting these programs must be seen not in terms of their benefits but in terms of those awaiting younger Americans. As such, they are at least partially altruistic (at least in spirit).

    As for Medicare and Medicaid (a general revenue program without trust fund /payroll withholding support) I think we need to allow the policy changes of the past several years engage before we panic. That said it is not too early to consider contingency-based plans. Especially in light of cost growth in Massachusetts over the past several years.

    Finally in light of recent news on Farm subsidies and the Massachusetts experience (see today’s NYT for more on both), I think we need to all be respectful and move forward with an understanding that regardless of whether AARP acted correctly, they represent more than a single static generation of Americans, what they represent is more like a rolling census.
    Generational warfare is not in anyone’s best interest. AARP can and maybe misinformed on this point at present but turning them into enemy number one is not anymore informed in my opinion. AARP’s actions are not unique, and while they may be interpreted as counterproductive ‘strategic posturing’ what they point out more than anything is that people everywhere are allowing themselves to be distracted from working the problem. It is simply more playing the blame game and pitting human interests against one another in counterproductive ways. Let’s not do that.

    …Back to working the problem (respectfully).

  5. comment number 5 by: Brooks

    Arne and reflectionephemeral,

    Sorry, but, well, UGH!

    It is absurd to point to SS “solvency” and assert that SS spending isn’t part of the problem and that it therefore shouldn’t be part of the solution.

    Meaningless bookkeeping matters aside, SS is simply part of the whole in terms of our entire set of fiscal policy choices. I’ve explained this far too many times to want to repeat it all, so I’ll just post a couple of links to old stuff of mine in case anyone is interested.
    http://theforvm.org/diary/brooks-and-b-rational/social-security-solvency-and-irrational-partisan-rhetoric

    http://swordscrossed.org/node/1720

    “Solvency” isn’t an argument not to cut projected SS spending, and lack of “solvency” isn’t an argument TO cut projected SS spending. It’s simply irrelevant, except insofar as conceptual confusion surrounding it affects the politics of the issue.

  6. comment number 6 by: reflectionephemeral

    Brooks: The long-term SS shortfall is a modest problem. It can be fixed instantly for a century by removing the cap on the payroll tax. There are a number of other ways to address it too. See this discussion & chart: http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/10/most-important-social-security-chart

  7. comment number 7 by: Brooks

    reflectionephemeral,

    You’re just not getting it. My guess is you haven’t read my posts at the links I provided. Or perhaps you did but you just don’t get it. Maybe someone else here will take time to guide you. I’ll pass on repeating all I’ve said at my links, probably to no avail. See my links if you haven’t yet and if you wish.

  8. comment number 8 by: Amelioration

    Excellent presentation tonight in Madison. I waited around a bit, but so did too many others, i guess you are too interesting to converse with.

    My oldest son is getting his PhD at U of Va, in chem.
    I hope that you saw Rachel Maddow’s comparison between the nine, nine, nine proposal and the early video game Sim-City–which had the same tax structure and she though that is where he got it.

    Money and savings or spending can also go into investing, as you know. In a recession, when saving goes down, so does investing i think. So does comodities purchases so more money can be left over for lenders.
    Also, as the fear factor quells expenditures, more money is laying around hoping to be spent or used for lending.
    I think there is also a threshold where if more money is added or taken away, the lending rates stay the same because there is not a large enough demand to use up all the cash.
    Just some of my dumb thoughts.
    Fritz

  9. comment number 9 by: B Davis

    I find this AARP ad campaign so offensive. They threaten policymakers with their 50 million votes if any of them dares to include reforms to Social Security or Medicare as part of longer-term deficit reduction.

    It may just be me but that commercial reminds me of a trailer for a zombie movie, the way the camera pans out to show more and more seniors walking behind the speaker. In any case, I agree that it’s offensive. There is not even a hint that seniors and/or the AARP is willing to engage in any sort of reasonable conversation to make entitlements sustainable. The message is just, touch our entitlements and 50 million (zombie) seniors will vote against you. As an AARP member of several years, I can at least say that at least one (and I hope many) of those 50 million will NOT be voting as the the AARP is suggesting.

  10. comment number 10 by: B Davis

    reflectionephemeral wrote:

    Brooks: The long-term SS shortfall is a modest problem. It can be fixed instantly for a century by removing the cap on the payroll tax. There are a number of other ways to address it too. See this discussion & chart: http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/10/most-important-social-security-chart

    The chart from the Trustees Report that the Mother Jones article shows reminds me of the charts I saw back in the early 90’s that defended the deficit. The article uses that chart to imply that a fairly stable deficit implies a similarly stable debt. It states: “What’s important is that, unlike Medicare, Social Security costs don’t go upward to infinity. Of course, nobody would suggest that any costs go “upward to infinity”. However, the “Cumulative OASDI Income Less Cost,
    Based on Present Law Tax Rates and Scheduled Benefits” (as shown in Figure II.D4 on page 13 of the Trustees Report) will continue to grow “toward infinity”.

    The article also states that the “long-term difference between income and outgo is only about 1.5% of GDP”. Now 1.5 is a relatively small number. But 1.5% of GDP is not a small amount. All Social Security revenue is just about 4.5% of GDP and all federal tax revenue is just about 18% of GDP. Hence that 1.5% of GDP represents one-third of all Social Security revenue and one-twelfth of all federal revenue. That is not a trivial amount. The article then states that “Any plan for fixing Social Security requires only tiny benefit cuts and tiny revenue increases”. If that is the case, why not allow those “tiny benefit cuts and tiny revenue increases” to be discussed and put into law? I suspect that it’s likely because they would then be subjected to real scrutiny and scoring and we would find that the changes are not quite so “tiny”.

    In addition, we cannot ignore the fact that the really big problem is with the other senior entitlement, Medicare. That would seem like all the more reason to address and solve the relatively minor problems of Social Security NOW so that we can concentrate on the much more difficult problems of Medicare. And simply blaming all of Medicare’s problems on “health care costs” is a little like blaming increased defense spending on “technology costs”. The way that Medicare operates may well affect those costs. In any event, we need to deal with the reality of those costs, whatever they are.

  11. comment number 11 by: Vivian Darkbloom

    What struck me foremost about this AARP ad was the aggressive tone. This was accentuated by the close camera shots and the main antagonist followed by a group of seniors advancing on the camera in the last few seconds of the ad. It’s like you are being advanced upon and threatened by a gang of senior thugs or a group of zombies in The Night of the Living Dead.

    After the initial shock, I was struck by the lack of apparent logic . The simplistic argument seems to be “these are our benefits, and we’ve earned them” (a more or less verbatim quote of the only substance in the ad along with the thinly veiled threat that they are voters). Most of the seniors in that ad seemed to be pretty well dressed (at least if you are out for a mugging) so perhaps that explains the idea that all those benefits, particularly Medicare, “have been earned.” Perhaps the AARP only represents retirees in the top quintile of lifetime earners? If so, it’s not clear their message is in the best interest of those “clients”.

    Aside from the misconception that those benefits have been “earned” (in the sense of “fully paid for”), there is no discussion of who is going to pay for those benefits to the extent they are currently under-funded. This is shortsighted, at best. It’s like a chess player who can’t think beyond the first move (but see below).

    Take social security. The SS trust fund currently has about $2.4 trillion of IOU’s from Treasury. Those funds have long been spent on other “projects” (generally by that same generational cohort of seniors who AARP says should not have their “benefits” touched). Now, despite increases in payroll contribution percentages and limits, current payroll contributions are not sufficient to pay current benefits, and Treasury will need not only to service the interest on that trust fund debt, but also repay principal. How will they do this? Either through additional Treasury borrowing in the public market (necessarily not from a trust fund that is decreasing rather than increasing), or higher taxes.

    Additional general borrowing will likely mean higher inflation and/or higher interest rates. To the extent your income is from social security, it is to a great extent inflation-protected because benefits are tied to CPI (albeit an imperfect metric to be sure). . Presumably, though, not all members of the AARP are solely reliant on social security. To the extent higher taxes are needed to repay the trust fund (and to finance the public debt due to higher interest rates), those seniors will need to pitch in, too. There is no dollar-for-dollar equivalence for seniors here—in other words, $1 of social security benefits “preserved” does not equate with $1 of “income preserved” for those same seniors. Seniors and the AARP apparently are not aware that they, too, will need to fund preserving those benefits. For those seniors in the upper quintiles of income, it’s quite possible they will end up paying more than they receive by “preserving their benefits”.

    Now, take Medicare. It’s not clear to me what the AARP is getting at. Is the idea that their members have “earned” a blank check? Unlike, social security, Medicare can, and to a large extent is, funded through general revenues (to the extent current payroll taxes are insufficient to cover costs). Again, those very same seniors will end up paying for their own benefits (some, paying much more than they receive) either through higher taxes, higher Medicare premiums, or both.

    So, it’s not sufficient to simply argue that “our benefits should be maintained”. That is, at best, only half of the equation. The other half is who will pay for those under-funded programs. If reflectionephemeral would get his or her way, this would presumably be future retirees, or at least the most productive of that cohort—this is the sort of generational selfishness that Economist Mom rightfully deplores. The younger cohorts are expected to pay contributions on higher income limits and perhaps also at a greater percentage of that income to support seniors who have squandered their own trust fund on general spending. Not surprisingly, the AARP is silent on how maintaining current programs should be funded. It’s likely that higher Medicare costs will result in higher Medicare premiums and higher general taxes. Seniors pay those, too.

    Perhaps I’m being too hard on AARP. After all, are they not doing what every other interest group, political party and partisan polemicist is now expected to do? In other words, put out a simplistic message that is not intended to be taken at face value by serious people. Rather, the message is intended to be an extreme and unrealistic opening move in the negotiation process. Maybe they do know what the next move is, but they just aren’t going to tell us just yet. The problem with this general tendency in public discourse is that a lot of folks take these messages—like biblical literature—at face value.

  12. comment number 12 by: reflectionephemeral

    Now 1.5 is a relatively small number. But 1.5% of GDP is not a small amount.

    That’s a fair point.

    Now, Drum’s point (and Reich’s, above) is that we can fix that shortfall over the next few decades. Eliminate the cap on the payroll tax, and bang, we’re done. There’s other ideas out there too, like the one Drum discusses.

    simply blaming all of Medicare’s problems on “health care costs” is a little like blaming increased defense spending on “technology costs”.

    That is false.

    As mentioned above, the CBO has pointed out that “[t]he bulk of that projected increase in health care spending [on Medicare and Medicaid] reflects higher costs per beneficiary rather than an increase in the number of beneficiaries associated with an aging population.”

    And Medicare & Medicaid have actually done a better job at cost control than private insurers.

    Of course, even though we spend over twice the OECD average per capita on health care, we don’t get any better results than the rest of the world.

    So, yes, the long-term problem with Medicaid is the US-only astronomical, and still-skyrocketing, cost of health care.

    If that is the case, why not allow those “tiny benefit cuts and tiny revenue increases” to be discussed and put into law?

    Because our politics are very dangerous right now because of the deep, fundamental irrationality of the Republican Party.

    In light of the debt ceiling debate and the truly unhinged rhetoric & voting in the health insurance reform debate (”death panels”, “socialism”, “government takeover”, etc.), I would rather wait a few years to address the problems SS will face in a few decades. Today’s version of the Republican Party doesn’t care about policy or rational argumentation enough to learn anything. Indeed, the GOP squandered the surpluses that Clinton & Gore had proposed to dedicate to the long-term SS shortfall, then tried to privatize SS just before the financial crisis & market crash.

    If we’re having a serious discussion, with everything on the table, about our long-term deficit problem, then sure, let’s look at SS.

    But we’re not.

    It’s my view that the emotionalist extremism from about 95% of the GOP is a blip in our history. Soon enough, we can address long-term problems like SS. Right now, the folks in Congress who are pushing for changes to SS don’t care enough about policy to try to get it right.

  13. comment number 13 by: Underwriterguy

    AARP doesn’t represent this senior and I haven’t been a member since I started paying attention to their politics. I say let’s have vouchers for healthcare and privatize SS. At least then I would have some confidence that my children and grandchildren would have benefits when they are needed.
    And, yes, I could pay more than the poverty level senior and I would be willing to if these programs could be changed. I like that new bumper sticker “I’m one of the 53%.”

  14. comment number 14 by: Joseph Botana

    Nice presentation this morning in Sheboygan WI. Ads like this one are at the hear of the problem we discussed. Namely, that groups take polarizing positions and use sound bites to make an emotionally charged point. Since everyone does that, and no one can present the tough choices and compromises in a 30 second ad, and even if they could, they could not raise the money to air it, the extremes have all the support and the middle is conspicuously vacant. Keep trying to make the case. Perhaps eventually enough people will get tired of all the noise and start to listen to reason!

  15. comment number 15 by: Jim Glass

    Now, Drum’s point (and Reich’s, above) is that we can fix that shortfall over the next few decades. Eliminate the cap on the payroll tax, and bang, we’re done.

    Eliminating the cap on the payroll tax collects nowhere near the 1.5% of GDP needed to close the cash flow gap just for SS. (Claims that it does bizarrely count the SS trust fund bonds as an “asset”, instead of the liability it is that will require $2.5 trillion in tax increases to service it.)

    And we don’t have a “few decades” to to close the entire gap. CBO says income tax rates will have to increase by 50% by 2030 just to stay even with the cost rising cash cost of SS and Medicare. Or an equivilant tax increase, such as a national sales tax has to arrive. Or the accumulated debt becomes economy-crushing. (Well, it made that projection in 2007, before the recession — of course things are much worse now.) 2030 is less than two decades away, and 50% across-the-board increase in income tax rates is not “small”.

    the CBO has pointed out that “[t]he bulk of that projected increase in health care spending [on Medicare and Medicaid] reflects higher costs per beneficiary rather than an increase in the number of beneficiaries associated with an aging population.”

    False. That is the increase post-2030 to 2085. The increase from today until 2030 is overwhelmingly due to the increase in the number of retirees, the retirement of the Baby Boomers — and as CBO has pointed out, *that* is the increase that creates the fiscal crisis.

    To paraphrase Butch and Sundance: “I don’t think I can swim all the way to 2080.” “Don’t worry, the fall to 2030 is going to kill us.”

    In light of the debt ceiling debate and the truly unhinged rhetoric & voting in the health insurance reform debate (”death panels”, “socialism”, “government takeover”, etc.), I would rather wait a few years to address the problems SS will face in a few decades….

    If we’re having a serious discussion, with everything on the table, about our long-term deficit problem, then sure, let’s look at SS. But we’re not.

    You mean Democrats storming town hall meetings damning Republicans for wanting to “destroy” Social Security “and reduce seniors to eating cat food” were not serious?

    Or is that the sort of reasoned, serious discussion you prefer to return to?

    Oh, and again, we don’t have “a few decades” to wait. Social Security is already into cash flow deficit. There is no way to cover that deficit but with more debt and/or higher taxes. That’s today, not a few decades from now. And the debt/tax cost is just going to get bigger and bigger until the 2030s.

  16. comment number 16 by: Loren Adler

    At least we have the little Peterson kid commercials http://www.youtube.com/pgpfoundation#p/c/BA6C8DC47972AE50/3/X4EcseaoIwU

  17. comment number 17 by: B Davis

    reflectionephemeral wrote:

    Now, Drum’s point (and Reich’s, above) is that we can fix that shortfall over the next few decades. Eliminate the cap on the payroll tax, and bang, we’re done. There’s other ideas out there too, like the one Drum discusses.

    I searched the thread and found no prior reference to Reich. In any event, I found an analysis of Social Security reform options at this link. They show the same graph referenced by Drum. Regarding elimination of the cap on the payroll tax, they state the following:

    Eliminating the payroll tax cap without providing new benefits would eliminate the program deficits in the near-term but it would fail to completely close the gap in the years beyond 2040, raising a flat 0.9% of GDP through all those years. Raising the cap to $250,000 without providing new benefits would improve cash flow in 2080 by 0.6% of GDP, cutting the program deficit in half. A more politically realistic option (similar to one proposed by Rep. Robert Wexler) that would tax income above the cap at 4% would improve cash flow by 0.1% of GDP in 2080.

    The above raises a question. By proposing to eliminate the cap, do you mean to do so without raising benefits somewhat as the existing formulas (which consider all taxed income in calculating the benefits) would mandate? If so, you would need to change the existing formulas. In any event, the 0.9% of GDP improvement would not close the gap permanently, even if you include the bonds in the Social Security trust fund.

    That is false.

    As mentioned above, the CBO has pointed out that “[t]he bulk of that projected increase in health care spending [on Medicare and Medicaid] reflects higher costs per beneficiary rather than an increase in the number of beneficiaries associated with an aging population.”

    Do you have a link to where the CBO makes that statement. If you look at page 12 of the CBO document at this link, you’ll see a graph that shows the “Effect of Aging” is a larger factor than the “Effect of Excess Cost Growth” on “Future Federal Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security”.

  18. comment number 18 by: Anandakos

    I really love it how Jim Glass blames American citizens for living past 65:

    “The increase from today until 2030 is overwhelmingly due to the increase in the number of retirees”.

    So we should all volunteer for Soylent Green, Jim? That would of course exclude anyone who had given a Republican candiate more than $1000 in any recent election, right?

    Since you and your party are adamantly opposed to
    any tax increase, “the debt/tax cost is just going to get bigger and bigger until the 2030s” (true), and the bond vigilantes will have their day with the US once they snack on the Romance Language countries of Europe, there’s no other plausible option.

    The Republican party’s message for seniors (except the aforementioned exemptees): “Die, Motherfucker!” It has a nice, Gyrene kind of ambiance. but as a campaign slogan it may be found wanting.

  19. comment number 19 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    Where did you get the idea that Jim Glass is a Republican?

    ‘There are more things under heaven and earth….’

  20. comment number 20 by: Arne

    Regarding cost growth and aging: For SS effect of aging is predominant. For health care it is excess cost growth.

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/87xx/doc8758/11-13-lt-health.pdf

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/115xx/doc11544/Presentation5-26-10.pdf (page 6, as already liked by B Davis)

    reflectionephemeral was correct (since he referred only to healthcare) and Jim Glass was wrong.

  21. comment number 21 by: Jim Glass

    I really love it how Jim Glass blames American citizens for living past 65: “The increase from today until 2030 is overwhelmingly due to the increase in the number of retirees”. So we should all volunteer for Soylent Green, Jim?

    I really love Anandakos’s logic.

    Here, Anandakos, I also say this: “The increase in government spending and debt 1940-1945 was overwhelmingly due to World War II”.

    Now tell everyone how I believe it would’ve been better if we’d saved the money by letting the Nazis win, Hitler-lover that I am. :-)

    The Republican party’s message for seniors (except the aforementioned exemptees): “Die, Motherfucker!”

    Says the represenstative of the party of reason and composure.

    Where did you get the idea that Jim Glass is a Republican?

    Anandakos says I’m a Republican! ROTFL!! ;-)

    I *really* love when people make up fantasy-world enemies to slur and libel, then enjoy thinking of themselves as being the reality-based, morally superior ones in the conversation. It’s so funny.

  22. comment number 22 by: Jim Glass

    Arne, as to your “Jim Glass was wrong”, I don’t see anything at those links saying “Jim Glass was wrong”. (Whatever that “Page 6″ is trying to say, it doesn’t refer to anywhere near the year 2030 I cited.) However, that last chart at the second link does make it quite clear to the naked eye that aging dominates total costs increases as of 2030, just as I said.

    For more detail, the recent CBO Long Term Budget Outlook (more recent than the material at the links) states that the projected increase in “Major health care programs and Social Security” by 2035 results 63% from “aging” and 37% from “excess cost growth”.

    As to Medicare, the size of the 65-and-over population receiving benefits, relative to the working age population that pays for them, is projected to grow by 74% (average 2.3% annually) by 2035. “Excess cost growth” is projected to grow about 50% total (1.7% annually until 2022 then declining slowly) — or significantly less than that (one point of GDP worth less) if the Obamacare promises hold.

    So I don’t feel particularly wrong on that point.

    Now, *other* health care programs, such as Medicaid and CHIP, are not tied to retirement age so you are correct about them, obviously.

    But with Medicare and Socical Security together causing “aging” to drive 63% of the total increase in expenditures as of 2035, I don’t feel very wrong overall.

  23. comment number 23 by: Vivian Darkbloom

    And, I wonder to what extent “aging” is causing “exess cost growth”?

  24. comment number 24 by: Arne

    Look at comments 1 and 15 again Jim.

    You quoted reflectionephemeral (about healthcare) and said his statement was “false”.

    Now in defense you refer to SS, Medicare, and Medicaid combined. If you use your source,
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/122xx/doc12212/06-21-Long-Term_Budget_Outlook.pdf,
    look at page 10, box 1-1, and refer to “Major Healthcare Programs” , it says 52 percent for excess cost growth in 2035 and 71 percent in 2085.

    While you are correct that it gets worse after 2035, you were wrong to call reflectionephemeral’s statement false.

    Of course, Vivian makes a good point (with respect to healthcare). If we did not have an increasing portion of the population reaching a point of needing more care (with the perceived ability to pay for it), we might have less “excess cost growth”.

    SS does not have “excess cost growth”. After correcting for the aging population, it is actually growing less than GDP.

  25. comment number 25 by: Dana Herbst

    We are $14 trillion in debt. That’s Trillion with a “T”. That’s Trillion as in twelve zeros!

    This ad is very offensive in that it gives the attitude of “make others sacrifice but leave my stuff alone”. This is wrong for a couple reasons.

    First, I don’t think the majority of AARP members think this way. If polled, I think our older Americans would be in favor of reduced social security and health care in order to reduce this horrible debt we are poised to pass on to our children and grandchildren. So I don’t think this commercial accurately reflects the great majority of AARP members.

    Also, it is not rational to think we can deal with a problem as large as the national debt while leaving major programs like social security and health care alone. Everything must be looked at and be on the table including social security, medicare, defense, and taxes. To assert otherwise is really an insult to the intelligence of the American people, old and young.