Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paying for Something You Don't Get Isn't a "Gain"

Via Daniel Larison, I see that the National Review's Christian Schneider doesn't understand what it means to gain from something.
Most important, it is younger voters who have the most to gain from Ryan’s plan to reform entitlements. With Medicare set to go bankrupt in a decade, Ryan can make a strong case to young voters that his plan is the only chance their generation has to benefit from the programs they currently fund.
Only if they're stupid enough not to see through that fraudulent argument.

Ryan, as you recall, is a typical "reformer" in that he lacks the courage to propose an immediate reform, so he's promising seniors that nobody above the age of 55 is going to be affected by his plan to transform Medicare into a voucher program. Let's imagine that Romney and Ryan win and make Medicare privatization the number one item on their agenda. The first set of vouchers won't be issued until 2023 or so, and it won't be for another fifteen or twenty years that enough seniors vested into the present Medicare system die off that the high cost of end-of-life care is no longer borne in large part by the present defined benefit Medicare program.

Then, with the caps on increases in the value of the "New Medicare" vouchers, unless healthcare inflation somehow fixes itself, you'll see the system deteriorate as seniors can afford less and less health insurance coverage for their vouchers. So if you're thirty today, you'll pay FICA taxes over the next twenty-five years to support defined benefit Medicare for most seniors, then you'll pay those same FICA taxes over the next ten or so years as the defined benefit recipients die off and the vouchers become less and less valuable, and your reward at the end of your lifetime of payment of the same FICA taxes that used to give seniors a robust, defined benefit plan? A voucher that is likely, at best, to allow you to pay for mediocre health insurance coverage. But you'll surely smile and thank Ryan and Romney for making you an "informed consumer" who has to sweat every healthcare dollar you spend because much of that money now comes out of your retirement savings.

Seriously, the Romney/Ryan plan is terrible for young people. It's an unconscionable ripoff. If Romney and Ryan believed the plan would sustain present levels of medical care they would not hesitate to implement it immediately. Instead they're not only taking the cowardly "put off the plan's implementation so far into the future that we're guaranteed to be out of office before anybody has to take responsibility" approach, they're employing a shockingly dishonest, race-baiting approach to sell it to seniors ("Obama wants to take away your Medicare, you sad, old white man, and give it to undeserving people who aren't like you"). When Romney tells seniors, "You paid" and that Obama is going to cut "guaranteed healthcare", it's a lie. But that's exactly what Romney and Ryan propose to do to young voters.

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