Friday, August 19, 2011

Proposal floats to look at seniors' assets as part of means testing

A reader of the Washington Post, Robert Glenn in suburban Maryland, lays it on the line with how to balance the budget, partly in terms of entitlement cuts (which won’t do as much to balance as conservatives think).

For Social Security, he wants to raise the retirement age to 70 (how quickly?) and include assessment of net worth or accumulated or inherited wealth as well as annual income in means testing (even for current beneficiaries?)  This is the first time I’ve seen anyone mention looking at assets in a fashion similar to what is done with Medicaid.  But, remember, the FICA contributions were supposed to be related to your final level of benefits (in a tiered system, to be sure). So, did someone like me “earn” my benefits?  I thought so.  If it could really be yanked away by redistribution, I would want a totally privatized system (like the Tea Party).

This reminds me of the behavior of the radical Left , which regarded “upper middle class” individuals as part of the “enemy” and wanted to outlaw all inherited wealth, back in the early 1970s.

Glenn also suggests age cutoffs for certain procedures under Medicare at public expense, and mentions means testing. Why should someone be allowed to keep his own wealth and use public expenses for coronary bypass surgery when lifestyle matters could have prevented it?  Why not recognize that life is not infinite, and everyone has their “turn” and time limits?  It sounds like cold rationality.

As previous posts have suggested, Medicare benefits, especially Parts B and D, are covered much less by individual premiums and previous Medicare taxes than is Social Security.

The link is here. The letter appears in print on p A26 in the Washington Post Aug. 19.

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