John Stossel

I wish President Obama would say to Congress: Members of Congress, I ask you to address our fiscal emergency.

In 1964, President Johnson won a landslide victory -- quite similar to mine. His election also brought liberals into Congress. The next year, they created the first government-run health care plan: Medicare.

They meant well, but unfortunately, this was the height of fiscal irresponsibility. I know Medicare is popular with the elderly. Of course it is. Everyone likes getting free things. But it is unsustainable.

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Retirees believe that their Medicare bills are paid from a "trust fund" that was created with deductions from their paychecks. But this is a politician's lie.

In truth, our predecessors spent every penny of those contributions immediately. They spent them on wars and pork that helped them get re-elected. The money for current retirees' health care is taken from today's workers.

This Ponzi scheme worked for a while. But then more people had the nerve to live longer. The average life span increased from 71 to 78 years. When Medicare began, there were five workers for every Medicare recipient. Now there are only four. And by 2030, the Board of Medicare Trustees expects there to be just 2.4. Unless millions of new young workers suddenly arrive from some other planet, there is no way that there will be enough workers to pay the Medicare benefits that we politicians have promised. Medicare's unfunded liability is $37 trillion -- yes, trillion. It's a scam. We politicians should be ashamed of what we promised our constituents.

We locked up Bernie Madoff for less.

Therefore, today I apologize for defending the absurd health care bills that have emerged from your committees -- proposals that would add trillions of dollars of additional debt to an already unsustainable system.

Instead, I propose that we raise the Medicare eligibility age. I propose that wealthy seniors receive Medicare only until they recover as much money as they paid in. After that, you rich people should pay for your own damn health care.

These measures will delay but not prevent Medicare's bankruptcy. You Democrats and Republicans both better get your heads out of the sand. There will never be enough tax money to pay for everything that everyone wants. If we expect the state to pay for care, a bureaucracy must tell people, at some age, "No, you can't have that." You might call it a death panel.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate