Cutting Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare benefits is vogue among elites in Washington and their corporate lobbyist allies. These programs did not cause our deficits, but many elites want to cut them because they fundamentally want to see them privatized.
Take Arthur Brooks. He’s the president of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. Yesterday he tweeted that raising the Medicare eligibility age is “at least a step in the right direction”:
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67 would result in “$3.7 billion in higher costs for 65- and 66 year-olds, $4.5 billion from employers through company-sponsored insurance, $0.7 billion from state governments, and $2.5 billion in higher average prices for third parties once younger seniors are shifted out of the Medicare risk-pool and into the general population.”
For the incredibly wealthy Brooks, that’s probably not much of a problem. According to disclosures, he nets an annual salary of $528,272. Higher costs for seniors are not a problem to him.
As Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and others have noted, you can save billions of dollars for Medicare, beneficiaries, and taxpayers by enacting common sense reforms that don’t cut benefits by even a penny.
For example, if we simply dropped the protectionist trade barrier and allowed Americans to import drugs from Canada, we could save as much as $80 billion over ten years. Empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices just as the Pentagon negotiates for basic goods like paperclips could save as much as $156 billion over ten years.
These are very basic reforms that would save enormous amounts of money without costing taxpayers or beneficiaries anything. But they require standing up to Big Pharma. That’s a small price to pay for helping American taxpayers and seniors.