Social Security: Ten years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the original Act, over 40 workers supported each retiree. Soon the number of workers per retiree will be 2.5-to-1. We still refuse to allow workers to invest their Social Security money in the stock market. Chile and some 30 other countries have allowed their workers to put their money in market-based investments, with much better returns for retirees.
Medicare: In 1965, the projection for its cost in 1990 was $3 billion. ($12 billion in 1990 dollars.) The actual 1990 cost was $98 billion, higher than estimated by a factor of 8. The unfunded liability for Medicare, according to the 2013 Medicare Trustees' report, is $43 trillion -- a $7 trillion increase over their 2010 report.
Medicaid: This program, begun in 1965 and run jointly by the federal government and the states, provides health and long-term care coverage to the poor. For many states it is the fastest growing budgetary item. Enrollment in Medicaid grew 2.5 percent in 2013, but is expected to grow 8.8 percent in 2014.
Economist Milton Friedman long advocated simply giving the money directly to the poor. He called it a "negative income tax" -- or a direct payment to poor families. When you look at the amount of federal and state aid per poor family -- over $60,000 per year -- it would be cheaper to simply cut a check for every poor family.
Republicans like Ted Cruz believe Obamacare will reduce healthcare quality, increase -- not reduce -- the cost of health care and add another program whose projected costs are as likely to be as wrong as the projections were for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. More important, tea party Republicans, like Cruz, believe that health care and healthcare insurance, however desirable, are (SET ITAL)not(END ITAL) rights, let alone "rights" paid for with someone else's money.
At one time a brash, young senator took then-President George W. Bush to task over the rising U.S. debt: "The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents. Number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic!"
Today Sen. Harry Reid would call that young Illinois senator -- and future president, Barack Obama -- an "anarchist."
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