More wasteful pandering
In yet another cynical ploy for elderly votes that defies good economic thinking, President Obama and lawmakers from both parties want to provide additional $250 payments to 57 million Social Security recipients next year. This $14.3 billion attempt to buy votes with taxpayer dollars is not only unnecessary and fiscally unsound, it shows why Democrats’ health care plans will cost much more than claimed.
For the first time since 1975, Social Security beneficiaries will not receive an annual cost-of-living increase in 2010 because of low inflation. An increase is not needed. Even without this proposed extra payment, America’s retirees will have more buying power with their Social Security checks that they did in 2009 because the cost of living has declined.
To throw around $14 billion like confetti is utterly irresponsible. The 2009 federal deficit is a record $1.4 trillion, or 9.9 percent of gross domestic product. The Government Accountability Office estimates the deficit will total $9.1 trillion over the next decade with public debt projected to surpass the 1946 record of 109 percent of GDP. Out-of-control Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spend- ing will drive the increase.
Democrats argue that this is why their health care plans are needed. But this proposed Social Security payment demonstrates the mythical nature of their proposed savings — much of which relies on future Congresses to show more restraint than this one. For instance, one cost-saving proposal would implement automatic cuts in health care spending if savings don’t materialize. Another would reduce payments to doctors and hospitals in the future. This is like a reverse act from the hamburgerloving Popeye character, Wimpy: We’ll gladly save you two decades from now for letting us spend today.
Democrats are not the only culprits. Louisiana Republican Rep. Rodney Alexander has introduced legislation providing a 2.9 percent cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients next year. Both House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have called for using unspent stimulus money for any extra Social Security payment.
Here’s a better idea: Don’t spend the money and stop burdening our children with our fiscal incontinence.