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SHOCKER: Our Long-Term Debt Problem May Already Be Solved

Economy Memo Pad Politics

SHOCKER: Our Long-Term Debt Problem May Already Be Solved

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You may have missed the news that health care costs are growing at the slowest rate ever recorded.

Republican critics are reluctant to give the Affordable Care Act any credit for this amazing development. But Medicare, which has already implemented cost-saving policies from the law, showed no — 0.0 percent — cost growth whatsoever last year.

From 2000- 2007, costs of the program that insures all Americans over 65 grew at 5.4 percent annually, even more than private insurance during the same period, which grew at an annual rate of 5.1 percent.

America’s long-term debt problem is essentially a health care cost problem. And if current trends continue, it seems we have already solved most of that problem — without having to make the cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that conservatives and corporate-backed groups like Fix the Debt and Third Way have been demanding for years.

“There’s a whole variety of evidence that’s accumulating suggesting that the cost curve is indeed bending,” Peter Orszag, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget when Obamacare was being crafted, told Yahoo! News. “Whether it continues to be bent remains to be seen, but we’re now going on five-plus years in which cost growth has been much lower than historical levels.”

If the amount we have to spend per patient on Medicare grows at the same rate as it has over the last five years, Orszag said, “the entire long-term fiscal gap in that program disappears and therefore most of the long-term fiscal gap facing the nation disappears.”

Yes. Disappears. The cost controls already in place could completely erase the need to make difficult choices to fix our debt problem — our “crisis,” as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) likes to call it.

“We should be focused on reinforcing that slower growth in health care costs,” said Orszag. And that means implementing the Affordable Care Act and finding ways to improve it.

52 Comments

  1. Duckbudder December 11, 2013

    If Puppies, and Kittens helped poor people, the Repigs would outlaw them.

    Reply
    1. wretchasketch December 11, 2013

      I have friends who live in the public projects. Everybody there has dogs and cats. They feed a lot of pets, some quite large, even though they need tax payer subsidies to feed their kids. Nobody is trying to outlaw their pets. Would be nice if they didn’t let their pit bulls and boxers run up and down the street, though.

      Reply
      1. Duckbudder December 11, 2013

        Reading comprehension: Reread first, and fifth words.

        Reply
        1. wretchasketch December 11, 2013

          I comprehend fine. If I read it again, I doubt the meaning will change. Poor people get puppies and kitties for the same reason as most, because it brings love and affection into their lives. Is that not helpful enough?

          Reply
          1. easton December 11, 2013

            no, you still don’t get it. If the Pope would preach compassion to the poor, Republicans would call him Marxist….and what do you know, he did and they have.

            Reply
          2. wretchasketch December 11, 2013

            By “they”, do you mean Rush Limbaugh, or all the Republicans are attacking the new Pope?

            Reply
          3. easton December 11, 2013

            is there are difference?

            Reply
          4. RobertCHastings December 15, 2013

            Yes, there is a difference, and if we are unable to see that we are no better than those Republicans who link all Democrats under the same banner. Rush Limbaugh (and Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, etc.) are NOT politicians, they are entertainers or propagandists. The Republican on the street who votes his conscience as a fiscal and social conservative may not be adequately informed to make a correct decision, but at least he is voting his conscience. However, if that same conservative casts his vote simply because whomever he votes against is a member of a certain demographic, then he is NOT voting his conscience, but his bias. It is hard enough to make the correct decision based upon conscience, especially with all the propaganda coming from both sides.

            Reply
          5. irishtap December 11, 2013

            Absolutely true…

            Reply
  2. tax payer December 11, 2013

    If one has to go let it be Welfare.

    Reply
    1. disqus_fsqeoY3FsG December 11, 2013

      You are of course referring to the Corporate Welfare, and not the welfare for those human beings in need.

      Reply
      1. tax payer December 11, 2013

        To me it’s both since I would rather keep my Social Security since we did pay weekly to have it in the future. I am sorry, but that’s the way it should be for those like myself that worked to have something in our Golden Years. Those that want to help the poor they can always donate money for these people and not expect the tax money to support them.

        Reply
        1. midway54 December 11, 2013

          And what happens when the point is reached wherein your contributions and mine have been exhausted and the pension becomes fully taxable, which of course shows that the taxpayers are supporting both of us.

          Reply
          1. tax payer December 11, 2013

            By that time we may not even be here, so why worry about it right now.

            Reply
          2. midway54 December 11, 2013

            I have been fortunate enough to have survived to that point a couple of years ago. So, maybe I am one of those lazy moochers now.

            Reply
          3. whodatbob December 11, 2013

            No! You are now living off the growth of your Social Security fund. Ops, I forgot it was used by the government.

            Reply
          4. tax payer December 11, 2013

            No, you’re not because Social Security still exist for those getting it, but let’s hope it not eliminated by those clowns in Congress.

            Reply
          5. mikem42 December 11, 2013

            Uhhh, children, grandchildren, etc.

            Reply
          6. tax payer December 11, 2013

            I understand by that remark, but by that time they may let them set aside for their future and do away with Social Security. We don’t know what is in store for them in the future, but as others have done most of the time and that is to let the tax payers take care of us.

            Reply
          7. mikem42 December 11, 2013

            T.P., I don’t mean to be disagreeable, but they do let them set aside for their future, and always did. But social security is needed because too many can’t afford to save for retirement, at least until they get older with less kids and bills. But, why “they” want to get rid of Social Security is because they (employers) must match the employees payments. That is their goal, to lower their own contribution to zero. It is needed by the masses. Billions of dollars would be extracted from the economy if S.S. were to be dropped. And millions would have no way to support themselves, not because they were lazy or wouldn’t work, but because there weren’t enough good jobs or they were (are) disabled in some way. Social security is so important to the fabric of our country. It was attacked just like the ACA is being now.

            Reply
          8. tax payer December 11, 2013

            Many Companies don’t offer you the chance to be in a Pension Plan, so everyone feels Social Security will be here for us. I am glad our Company offered us the chance to be in a Pension Plan and that means I get two checks every month. It would have been nice had the Government forced them to offer a Pension Plan to every worker in this country, but as you know many Companies go bankrupt and there goes your Pension unless it’s insured.

            Reply
          9. mikem42 December 11, 2013

            Mostly companies have moved their jobs offshore, and with it the donations from workers into social security, plus the company share. As you stated, companies do go under, and that’s just another good reason for social security. It needs to be funded more fully, and the government shouldn’t be able to borrow from it. My wife is like you, nice pension from her company, which was (is) a utility. I had two pension plans with 2 different companies, and after ERISTA was passed, they both dissolved the plan, and all I got was my contribution back, not what they had promised. ERISTA was a corporate/chamber of commerce backed plan to free companies from offering and paying into pensions. Corporate America is evil. Goes back to the days of the Robber Barons and continues today.

            Reply
          10. Patrick B December 14, 2013

            douche-bag

            Reply
          11. jnap December 11, 2013

            Social Security can not be replaced by “setting aside for their future” precisely because the future can not be known. That is the beauty of SS because no matter how badly you have done with your financial life Social Security will be there for your retirement. That is its purpose: to assure your are not destitute in old age.

            Reply
          12. iamproteus December 13, 2013

            Short-sighted much there, tax payer? I suppose there is no need to ask your opinion regarding global warming, is there?

            Reply
          13. tax payer December 13, 2013

            That’s something we have to accept unless something can be done to avoid or stop the disasters that may occur in the future and right now there isn’t much that can be done to stop whatever happens as a result of global warming. I don’t follow it as much as I should, but we do have other problems right now, so we have to worry about them too. Financial problems and lack of jobs seems to be the most problems we have, and global warming I feel not too many are concerned about it until it happens.

            Reply
          14. Patrick B December 14, 2013

            haha your a douche-bag

            Reply
          15. tax payer December 14, 2013

            Ha, ha learn to spell. There’s a Big Difference between ( Your and You’re ), so keep your comments to yourself until you learn what your and you’re actually means.

            Reply
          16. Patrick B December 15, 2013

            c02 levels are on the decrease, get a new cause

            Reply
          17. mikem42 December 11, 2013

            They will never be exhausted as long as there is employment, since current workers pay into the system. The worst is lowering of benefits, which isn’t a good thing for a lot of reasons. Raising the cap on high incomes is the fair thing to do, since everyone else pays on 100% of their income.

            Reply
        2. jnap December 11, 2013

          Do you understand that even after all of those years paying into Social Security you have not accumulated enough to pay your benefits for the twenty or more years you possibly could collect?
          Yes, your SS taxes did earn interest but not near enough to fund all the payments you might receive. Should there not be enough then taxpayer money or deficit borrowing will have to make up the difference. It is complicated problem exacerbated by the fact that so many people don’t earn that much and subsequent don’t pay enough into the SS fund to keep it solvent.

          Reply
          1. RobertCHastings December 15, 2013

            FICA from the employee and employer amounts to 15% (about) of the employee’s income. Were the individual to invest 15% of his income in his own IRA for 40 years, he would do little better than what the SSA does by investing in the best fund on the planet, the US Treasury. After all, this is the investment of choice for the top 1% when they receive tax breaks. Since Reagan reduced taxes on the wealthy, rather than creating jobs with the money, the wealthy have been investing in Treasury instruments, and the interest from such investments is paid by OUR taxes. If what our Social Security fund is based upon is not good enough, then why do the wealthy invest so heavily in it?

            Reply
        3. Patrick B December 14, 2013

          your a douche-bag

          Reply
          1. tax payer December 14, 2013

            Learn the difference between ( your and you’re ) to make sense.

            Reply
          2. Patrick B December 15, 2013

            still a douche bag

            Reply
          3. tax payer December 15, 2013

            When someone says something like what you have just said ( it makes me think ) maybe they’re gay since no male would even come out with what you keep saying. That’s what I think and I may be wrong, and maybe I am right.

            Reply
          4. RobertCHastings December 15, 2013

            And your issue with gays is? They are, after all, now granted ALL the rights of citizenship that heteros enjoy.

            Reply
          5. tax payer December 15, 2013

            Patrick is the person I am referring about because he’s such a pest. He reminds me of the Mental Clients I had to watch over, but at least they didn’t know what they were saying and he knows exactly what comes out of his mouth. Does ( Still A Douche Bag ) make any sense coming from a male? They have always had citizenship except in a different way.

            Reply
          6. RobertCHastings December 16, 2013

            What term would you prefer he use, “scrotum”? Or maybe”dick head”? The term “douche bag” has been used to refer to either men or women, by men or women, and is not necessarily used a referent to any anatomical feature, but as an insult regarding one’s attitude or character.

            Reply
          7. tax payer December 16, 2013

            Why are you so worried about what I think of him? He has kept quiet until now, so I’ll just forget about him for now.

            Reply
          8. RobertCHastings December 16, 2013

            You had a problem with his use of the term “douche bag” and assumed, because of his use of that term,he must be gay, as only a gay MAN would use that term to refer to another man. This smacks of homophobia. As I am NOT the morality police, or the PC police, or the police of ANYTHING, It just struck me as odd that someone who pushes an agenda of acceptance would assume that stance. The Republican Party has enough trouble already with their attempts at broadening their tent and rebranding their tarnished image.

            Reply
      2. irishtap December 11, 2013

        Beautifully placed right cross.

        Reply
    2. johninPCFL December 11, 2013

      Really? We spend $600B a year on the military, over $1T a year on SS and Medicare, but you’d go for cuts in a $10B program to balance the debt? Six-sigma programs go for improvements to the largest cost items to povide the most improvement to the bottom line. On that scale, welfare is way past six sigmas out in the dirt.

      Reply
      1. tax payer December 11, 2013

        Let the other countries defend themselves and less money will be needed for the military.

        Reply
        1. highpckts December 11, 2013

          I know! Just build a dome over your house and you can live comfortably in your golden years and not worry about anyone! Geez! Talk about isolationizm!

          Reply
          1. Bill Quigley December 11, 2013

            Get real! Our military expenditures are just about equal to that of ALL the other countries in the world combined! We could cut our military expenditure substantially without jeopardizing our security what so ever. This has nothing to do with isolationism, but rather a realistic assessment of our true military needs.

            Reply
          2. tax payer December 11, 2013

            Most people would become citizens of any country that would decide to attack us and be safe. If you don’t have any place to stay safely I would gladly charge you one million dollars to stay being protected with us and meals included, but that would be an yearly contract. In humor of course unless you have no sense of humor.

            Reply
        2. midway54 December 11, 2013

          Do you think that would be acceptable to the plutocrats including Cheney and his cronies who are obsessed with perpetual wars for perpetual profits to the delight of the hordes of salivating contractors

          Reply
          1. tax payer December 11, 2013

            We have no say in what we want, so we are at the mercy of everyone in Congress and that includes Obama.

            Reply
        3. RobertCHastings December 15, 2013

          Finally, you are right, to a point. However, if you follow your proposal to its logical conclusion, what do you come up with? We disband our military, or at least stop using it to shape our foreign policy, and reduce is scope and mission. Is North Korea willing to reciprocate? Is Iran willing to reciprocate? Will Syria send their soldiers home and provide them with jobs?

          Reply
  3. irishtap December 11, 2013

    But wait ‘wasn’t it the party of business’ who should have seen the upside consequences of ACA? Ummm, the GOP knows the Democrats passed a plan crafted in a right wing “think tank” – right? The Republicans are aware that ACA is a market based law – do they not? What I need to know from the GOP is this : if you despise this law which is based upon your own ideology and it’s key provisions written at the Heritage Foundation; and early indications show it to be working on many fronts – and you have no alternative to offer the American public (probably because ACA is your own damn plan), what are your true motives for attempting to sabotage it’s implementation? I believe the despicable opposition to a fair health care delivery system in our country, more than any other issue speaks to, and spotlights, the INHUMANE, incendiary character of the GOP. They’re either ‘evil to the core or addled beyond help’. To sum it up :they’ve got nothing worthwhile to offer ordinary Americans. Only backward policy which preaches ‘this is the best we can do so get used to it’.

    Reply
  4. Socialism is Organized Evil December 16, 2013

    The malfeasance and dishonesty of Hussein Obama’s criminal regime contributed the US government’s credit rating downgrade on 05 Aug 2011.

    Reply

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