Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Robert J. Samuelson proposes "Let Social Security and Medicare go under"

Robert J. Samuelson has a brutal column in Newsweek, “Let the Grow Bankrupt, Soon: Solving Social Security and Medicare”, published May 23, 2009. The link is here. My first reaction is to compare this with Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal."

He says that the ‘reckoning dates” of 2017 and 2037 for Social Security and Medicare (respectively) are still distant, so Obama’s pre-inauguration “end of the road” after “kicking the can down the road” metaphor are just talk. But Samuelson brutally takes on the “noun ‘entitlement’” even for relatively affluent retirees – ignoring the fact that all of them had to contribute (through FICA and Medicare taxes) money to qualify for benefits, so there is some substance to the idea that these programs are “annuities.” But, he’s right, some just moderately affluent retirees face financial cataclysm at the time of bankruptcy if “something isn’t done”. It will be.

This sounds like one of John Stossel’s “You can’t talk about that.”

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