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There Goes Grandma Over the Cliff

A Commentary by Stephen Moore

Democrats have made a living in recent times with political attack ads fallaciously accusing Republicans of secret plans to destroy Medicare and Social Security.

In one famous TV ad, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan was depicted as shoving an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff.

Well, Republicans may want to reprise that ad -- and toss it back at Biden Democrats. New reports in recent days from the Congressional Budget Office and the Social Security trustees show both these programs running out of money much sooner than previously expected.

Under current law, Medicare goes into the red in 2026, and then over the next 10 years, the losses mount to half a trillion dollars. Soon thereafter, the system is insolvent and flat out of money to pay the bills. Social Security's finances are almost as rickety. The trust fund starts running out of money in 2034, and the losses eventually eclipse $1 trillion.

So, the worst thing Washington could do now is add more people on to the Medicare rolls and expand benefits. This only loads more passengers on to the decks of the Titanic and speeds its approach to the financial iceberg.

But that is exactly what President Joe Biden's plan does. Instead of fixing the Medicare finances, the Democratic plan expands benefits (to dental, vision and hearing) and lowers the age for benefits to 60. That will bring forward the trust fund's insolvency by two years: from 2026 to 2024.

An analysis by health experts at the Hoover Institution finds that the Biden plan would "increase the ten-year deficit by $394 billion with about 14 million Americans enrolling in at least Medicare Part A (which provides coverage for hospitalizations). The impact on Medicare spending would be even larger -- it would rise by almost $1 trillion over a decade."

The argument has long been that even when the Social Security and Medicare funds (the "lockbox," as Al Gore once called it) run out of money, the federal government will pay back the trillions of dollars of IOUs in the fund that have been borrowed by the "general fund" of the federal budget.

But where will that money come from? The Biden plan envisions trillions of extra borrowing over the next decade alone. How can we replenish Social Security and Medicare with funds if the rest of the budget is going bankrupt? This is like the Three Stooges gambit of trying to stop a sinking ship by scooping buckets of water out of one end of the boat and pouring it into the other side.

It is because of these flimsy finances that I have always advocated letting young people put their payroll tax dollars into a personal account so the money can't be stolen by politicians. There is no way that the government will have any money to pay benefits 40 years from now. But now, the crisis isn't 40 years away. It is five years away because of Biden's gargantuan debt plan.

The Democrats say they want to impose drug price controls to pay for some of these costs, but that will have two negative effects on seniors. First, price controls are linked to less innovation and slower races for the cures for diseases that afflict seniors, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Second, price controls may limit access to lifesaving and pain-alleviating drugs, as we see in other countries. This scheme only endangers the health of seniors.

I'm all for saving money on drug costs, but given the success of Operation Warp Speed, and the thousands of lives (mostly those over the age of 65) saved through this vaccine, why would we want to (SET ITAL)slow(END ITAL) the development of new drugs?

Seniors are by far the biggest losers from the Biden scheme of adding trillions of dollars to our national debt. Democrats say they will pay for their $3.5 trillion debt scam by taxing the rich. Uh-huh. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that even if you took every penny that the millionaires and billionaires have, that (SET ITAL)still(END ITAL) wouldn't pay for the mountain of new spending Biden wants. The piggy bank that they will raid is the Social Security/Medicare fund.

Now who's throwing grandma from the train?

Stephen Moore is an economist with FreedomWorks. He is also a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and a Washington Examiner columnist. To find out more about Stephen Moore and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


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