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An Unhappy Birthday for Medicare and Medicaid


An Unhappy Birthday for Medicare and Medicaid

Martha Burk

July 30 marks a very important anniversary in our modern political history.

Fifty-three years ago in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, creating two programs that would disproportionately improve the lives of older and low-income Americans — especially women.

Fast-forward to 2018, and both programs are very much under siege. Nowhere is the struggle starker than in the House Republican budget — titled “A Brighter American Future” — now on Capitol Hill.


The republican plan is not about reducing medical costs - it’s more about increasing medical costs, opening profit opportunities (costs to patients) for private insurance and pharmaceutical corporate owners. It’s about redistribution of costs, transferring as much of the costs they can get away with off the Federal government to maintain and even increase tax cuts for their prime funders, the umber-wealthy, uber-greedy (directly and as the owners of corporations), actually increasing costs to the patients, subordinating State interest in the medical welfare of our seniors to the greed of the moneyed class. It’s all about maximum redistribution upwards, and that’s why it requires massive lies in order to get it implemented. That sounds like shit to me. Conflating transferring costs with reducing costs is a pretty egregious , reprehensible lie, forfeiting one of any claim to respect.


We all pay into Medicare (hot sure about Medicaid) from our paychecks. Why can trump’s republicans just take that money out & put it wherever they want? It was designed to be used for medical CARE.

I paid thru my 25 yrs of work, my husband paid thru his 20+ yrs of military service to this country. The money I paid was not even returned via Social Security,; I get what he put in, It was as if I’d done nothing.


Money had been paid it to Medicare and Social Security. Money is already gone from these accounts to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and other expenditures, and replaced with IOUs from the Federal Government. To the extent to which it can reduce payouts to social security and Medicare, the government doesn’t have to pay back the money it has taken and spent.


A trust fund was created a few decades ago and if it was just a pile of cash, it would lose value at an exponential rate, equal to inflation. Bonds at least gain interest. There is no logical reason at all for the government to ever not pay what it owes. What the government can do is to cut back the amount of money that the system pays to people in the system, which makes no sense. The government could increase Social Security payments if it wanted to, since it can create money whenever it wants, just as it does when it spends money on everything else the right likes. Cutting Social Security expenditures isn’t necessary, it is a choice, and the politicians making these choices are increasingly corrupt sociopath assholes. The Third Way types too just met and talked about privatizing Social Security. That would be an epic disaster, but really good for Wall Street.


The total of “official” debt and unfunded liabilities is somewhere around 100 trillion.
The only way out is to default indirectly by massive inflation. 100 trillion ain’t so much when you have Venezuela level inflation.


Congrats. So much absolute bullshit in three sentences. Let’s hear the methodology as to how you arrived at your 100 trillion-dollar figure. I know how your silly nonsense works. An oft cited paper by Friedman on single payer shows that the system would cost 32 trillion over the next decade. Fuck! Hair on fire. Over the course of the next century then, if we assumed the same figures in the ensuring decades (just for the sake of argument), the same system would cost 320 trillion! Very simple problem though. The present system would cost 49 trillion over the next decade. Using the same numbers and methodology, 490 trillion over the next century. Which number is scarier, the 49 trillion or the 32 trillion? The 490 trillion or the 320 trillion? They are both scary though! Boo! The US economy is about 20 trillion. How big will US GDP be in the next century with current rates of growth? Well over 2,000 trillion. Real big number, right? See how big numbers can be thrown out there? You give us the source for that, and lets all have a good laugh.

“The only way out is to default indirectly by massive inflation. 100 trillion ain’t so much when you have Venezuela level inflation.”

I don’t even know where to begin. First off, the US will never default on its bonds, and it makes no logical sense to fucking assume massive inflation. The government already spent the money from the bonds into the economy. In fact, that money it injected into the economy is the money the private economy uses to buy the bonds. Issuing bonds takes money out of the economy, as do taxes and trade deficits (and tax shelters, and retained earnings, and savings accounts). Monopoly power also impacts prices. And government spending only necessarily causes inflation if we are at full employment and at full productive capacity. It is a fact that private banks create well over 90% of all money in existence, and so inflation is overwhelmingly the result of private banks creating credit money. And I could go on. There is no reason why the government would have to issue bonds to create money anyway. The bonds are a subsidy to the private economy. We could just inject the money into the economy, and take it out via taxes, and could lessen inflation by doing a number of things to banks, like increasing the reserve ratio or the interest rate that the Fed charges banks to borrow money.

I find the constant referencing of Venezuela funny too. Not a single conservative or libertarian I have come across can explain Venezuela’s current problems, what problems existed before 1998, what problems it shares with other poor countries, and what part of its problems have to do with external factors. Instead of knowing anything, they just get to have a simplistic socialist boogeyman. Why is Venezuela having economic problems? “Socialism”.


Martha, you seem to believe that only one sex benefits from these programs, thought I’d let you know that’s not the case. Men also benefit from them, how about we save Medicare and Medicaid for women, men and children.


During the post WWII period US women have had longer average lifespans than men and therefore experience more of both the benefits AND disadvantages of old age compared to men.

Recall LBJ noting his disappointment that despite his intentions to cover all Americans of both sexes, Medicare would cover only those over age 65 and the disabled due to Congressional opposition. LBJ expressed his hopes that Medicare would gradually be expanded to cover all Americans the way the Canadian system had recently evolved.

Instead, Medicare has been gradually hollowed out during the past 53 years…for both sexes and by both corporate parties.


This budget from hell takes a giant step toward privatizing the program by allowing insurance companies into the Medicare marketplace, which means benefits could be caught in a race to the bottom and become too paltry to cover all but the barest of medical needs.

The loss of the COLA’s which are now only a tiny percentage of what they were pre-Obama - and GOP Alan Simpson who was put in charge of the “Chained COLA” by Obama – means that many seniors will be homeless.

Basically - after “W” – every $1 any American had was worth 50 cents, maybe 40 cents. So Social Security checks were worth only half of what they previously were worth and the yearly/monthly increases which the COLA’s provided were stopped for two full years. When they resumed, the losses continued to compound and the new COLA provided little to combat inflation.

“If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.”
** Tony Benn**

Tony Benn was interviewed in Sicko, Michael Moore’s documentary film about the health industry in the US. Explaining the post-war creation of the welfare state, he said the popular mood of the 1945 election was: “If you can have full employment by killing Germans, why can’t we have full employment by building hospitals, building schools?”

A few more quotes from Benn —

  1. “I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralise them.”

Another quote from Tony Benn’s interview with Michael Moore in Sicko, in which he highlighted poverty and healthcare inequality as a democratic issue. “The people in debt become hopeless, and the hopeless people don’t vote… an educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern,” he said.

  1. “Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself”

Tony Benn thought any meaningful change could only come from below, and felt apathy was openly encouraged by those in positions of power. “The Prime Minister said in 1911, 14 years before I was born, that if women get the vote it will undermine parliamentary democracy. How did apartheid end? How did anything happen?”


Actually the number is around 127 trillion. That number comes from the U.S. Treasury and 17 Nobel Laureates. You might hate the messenger, but that doesn’t make the message wrong.

I understand. The defense of a Socialist State is an impossible task. My condolences.

I suppose you’re right. A country that wages endless war, stole the land from the indigenous peoples, was founded on slavery and is run by corrupt kleptocrats would never do anything as dishonorable as default on its debts. I stand corrected.


No, I don’t hate the message, it’s nonsense, I don’t care about you individually either. As I said, big numbers don’t scare me, and I won’t even bother posting links of different studies using different assumptions. Change, for example, the assumptions on taxes, or improvements in inefficiency within the system, and the end result changes. Assumptions on economic and wage growth would do so too. The present healthcare system will cost this country about 100 trillion over the next few decades. We would spend less, trillions less, if we had single payer. The size of the US economy over that time period (the “infinite horizon”) will be thousands of trillions of dollars. You want to scare people with big numbers without putting anything into context. The costs of existing programs are entirely manageable; we could easily do more than we are doing. If you want to argue that we will literally not have enough natural resources to do particular things, go ahead, but that is a separate argument.

This is from your own article. The propaganda here is too obvious, “The fiscal gap is the present value of all projected future expenditures less the present value of all projected future taxes. The fiscal gap is calculated over the infinite horizon. But since future expenditures and taxes far off in the future are being discounted, their contribution to the fiscal gap is smaller the farther out one goes. The $210 trillion figure is based on the Congressional Budget Office’s July 2014 Alternative Fiscal Scenario projections, which I extended beyond their 75-year horizon.”

Okay, so let’s play this game of yours. The present healthcare system, the privatized, inefficient train wreck that it is, will cost 49 trillion over the next decade. Let’s assume no growth in the costs of the system in real terms, how much would the system cost in over the next 75 years? Again, being generous and very basic in my assumptions, how much would the system cost over the next 75 years (I won’t even “extend beyond their 75-year horizon”)? 367.5 trillion! How much would single payer cost using the same assumptions? 240 trillion. That’s a 127.5 trillion-dollar gap. Boo! And I have really conservative assumptions there and didn’t extend it beyond 75 years. What are the costs of doing little, the state that is, in regards to the environmental crisis over the “infinite horizon”? What cost would you attach to our species going away and society collapsing? See how this is done? And the fiscal gap, by the way, is the amount of money that the government is leaving in the private economy. The fiscal gap is the state leaving more money in the non-public sector. Even if we were to reduce that, where in the non-public sector would that come from? I will anticipate your response, not from the oligarchy, rentier interests and the like. Fight the power!

“I understand. The defense of a Socialist State is an impossible task. My condolences.”

Please, you think far too highly of yourself. Obviously, I was struggling with how to respond to your mountain of bullshit. Silly ass.

“I suppose you’re right. A country that wages endless war, stole the land from the indigenous peoples, was founded on slavery and is run by corrupt kleptocrats would never do anything as dishonorable as default on its debts. I stand corrected”

What in the hell does that stuff have to do with the government paying its debts? All of that has been true to this point, the government is still here and its debt is still accepted. Try a better response FightCommonSense.