If wealthy financial interests cannot get the revenue that funds Social Security, then no one will.
I’m not the kind that sees conspiracies behind every corner and I’m not much of a patron of those popular conspiracies that appear to have some credibility, like some of those surrounding JFK’s assassination. But if I were to apply myself I could perhaps make a case that Paul Ryan and the GOP are out to eliminate Social Security through a slow process that entails shrinking Medicare and Medicaid to a form that allows more people to die before they reach retirement age.
Mr. Ryan has released the GOP budget plan for 2012 and in it is a proposal that would eliminate $1 trillion from the federal program that enables the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us to purchase health insurance and vital, life-saving prescription drugs for millions. It doesn’t remove the $1 trillion from Medicaid immediately; doing it instead very slowly over a 10 year period. A sort of “death by a thousand cuts” process. It’s conceivable that the GOP hopes that benefits that are not realized by a generation whose age and health make them ineligible to tap into these benefits for years to come will go unnoticed long before they do see the value of such a program for themselves.
As the means to provide health services is reduced through the GOP’s voucher program, illnesses will become more prevalent and cures will be fewer for those who rely on this low cost health insurance, thus increasing the likelihood of death at an earlier age than would have otherwise occurred for senior citizens, poorer children and the disabled. Already the GOP is working the other side of the tracks as they attempt to raise the age on Social Security eligibility to 70.
A 2007 GAO report shows that lower income people who are unable to provide adequate health care insurance die younger than their wealthier counterparts who can.
With this combination of higher eligibility rates for collecting SS benefits and poorer people dying off long before they reach that age due to inadequate health care coverage, the U.S. Treasury will have more money available; money that corporations will lobby for to subsidize their ventures while they re-invest their profits in share holder dividends and upper management bonuses. And any real tax savings here will not significantly impact most middle income wage earners in this country.
A look at the GOP’s budget deficit reduction plan shows their “preferred treatment for Medicaid, outlined in a policy booklet called “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” … convert[s] current federal payments to states into direct assistance in the form of $11,000 per year per recipient, which could be used to purchase private insurance.” (GOP plans $1 trillion Medicaid cut, by Jonathon Allen, Politico, 3/31/11)
There is little in this “Roadmap” about cost of living adjustments (COLA) to deal with inflation and there most certainly are no restraints on the private sector to charge what they will for health care. What $11,000 buys today in terms of treatment and necessary therapies will likely not cover such cost ten years from now and even less on down the road from that. If this practice carries over to Medicare then the elderly along with children and the disabled will have fewer people to collect their Social Security benefits they have earned over time.
But surely the Republican Tea Party is not that cold and calculating. Not everyone on the Right can be as conniving as Grover Norquist whose Americans for Tax Reform group, since 1989, has aligned itself with conservatives and business interests to shrink the government through tax and spending cuts to a size that “can be drowned in a bath tub”; tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 2% more than anyone else. However, that may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
Too many Americans have been convinced by GOP rhetoric that the budget is a spending issue, not a tax issue. But anyone can clearly see a correlation between tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest amongst us and a short-changing of vital social services. The specified taxes that come out of paychecks while paying for Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security are small in comparison if the majority of Americans were left to fend for themselves.
“Medicare, by means of cost controls and the distribution of risk, is the best deal going in health care by a third. To scrap Medicare would mean loss of that price leverage and higher prices for seniors that will likely end up being passed on to the sandwich generation” says Huffington Post commentator, Stephen Herrington.
“Vouchers for private insurance in lieu of Medicare … would instantly increase the federal deficit component for assistance to seniors by 30%, the cost advantage of Medicare over private plans. Anything less than full value would simply disproportionally shift the burden from government to a public already groaning under the weight of servicing medical profits. There are no net savings to the public here. (emphasis mine) Servicing private profit is no less onerous than taxes.”
So is this a conceivable conspiracy by the GOP to kill benefits for low and middle-income families? We don’t see any efforts to reduce the deficit with cuts in a bloated Defense budget. Even Scrooge reluctantly agreed to support the “Treadmill and the Poor Laws” that created a meager safety net for the poorest of the poor rather than allow for-profit efforts to take charge of this. And so what if more people die sooner than they would without this aid that they have all contributed to throughout their working lives? Decreasing this “surplus population” will only leave more in the Treasury for the wealthy patrons of Republicans to feed off of for years to come.