And now consider the paltry amount of money we could get from taxing "the rich," as analyzed by economist Walter Williams: 1) "if Congress imposed a 100 percent tax, taking all earnings above $250,000 per year, it would yield...$1.4 trillion"; 2) if the government took 100 percent of the yearly profits of all the Fortune 500 companies, it would be only $400 billion; 3) if the federal government confiscated all the property of the country's 400 billionaires (down to their last set of cufflinks and children's baseball mitts) it would yield only $1.3 trillion dollars. And, of course, that would be a one-time take because after confiscating all their assets they would be broke. All together all the "rich" people's income and assets could not balance the budget for even one year -- let alone for generations.
No, the key, the unavoidable hard choice, is to reduce over all costs of the entitlements. And it is on this point that the RSC budget makes the obvious, essential, inevitable -- but still beyond the political pale -- proposal to slowly and humanely push back the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and the normal Social Security retirement age to 70. (Along with block-granting Medicaid and switching Medicare to a premium support system, as the Ryan plan proposes. It also adds a modest means test. The proposal also makes reasonable limits on agricultural subsidies and other smaller entitlement programs.)
In Medicare, they don't change anything for people 60 and over. But for people under 60 (that is, people born in 1952 or later), their eligibility age will move back two months for each year that passes starting after enactment of this provision. So if you are 59 this year and were going to become eligible for Medicare on your 65th birthday (say, Jan. 1) in 2017, under the plan, you would be eligible 12 months later.
Thus, you would have six years to mentally and economically adjust to getting your benefits starting just 12 months later. And of course, Americans now live to almost 80 years old -- and the overwhelming majority with vigor and health well into the 70s. Social Security disability coverage continues to be available for the others.
But due to the scores of millions of people affected and the power of compound saving over time from even the smallest changes -- the savings from this, in reality barely noticeable, change in our lives will be substantial. According to CBO, this one Social Security change, by itself, would close more than half the total Social Security long-term funding gap of $16.1 trillion. (For further details read the whole report of the Republican Study Committee "Honest Solutions; Fiscal Year 2012 Budget. Issued April 2011").
Let's follow the Ignatius Standard and get the job done now -- so that the world bond market can trust the U.S. Treasury again, and American business can be confident about employee costs and start hiring and investing again.
The Republican Study Commission budget gets that job done. If the Democrats or Republicans have other ways to get the same result, let's see them. But no half measures should be admissible in this great debate for our future.
Tony Blankley is executive vice president of Edelman public relations in Washington. E-mail him at TonyBlankley@gmail.com. To find out more about Tony Blankley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.