Reduce the Deficit, But Leave Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Alone??#$%

We Americans are consistent.  Consistently, we want a free lunch. A Washington Post-ABC News poll, reported by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen, found that despite concerns about long-term fiscal problems and the intensifying Washington debate, Americans “strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration.”The poll showed that nearly 60% of Americans strongly support the agreement to cut $38B from the federal budget. Yet the resistance to change entitlement programs was, well. . . phenomenal.  There was total opposition to cuts as follows:78% oppose cuts to Medicare.69% oppose cuts to Medicaid.56% oppose cuts to the military.And when it came to raising taxes on everyone by a small percentage and making small reductions to Medicare and Social security, 53% were totally opposed.  Of course, 72% approved on raising taxes on incomes over $250,000.  In conversations with colleagues having incomes in excess of $250, surprisingly, few are especially resistant to the rise in taxes.  Of course, this is Minnesota’s strong sense of communal responsibility, not Wall Street.If politicians worry about poll results, and most seem to, the conclusions are rather clear. The necessary changes will require serious political leadership and a willingness to foist reality upon the public.David Leonhardt of the Times has done much of the digging for us.  He found that two 56-years-olds with average earnings will pay about $140,000 in dedicated Medicare taxes over their lifetimes. But they will receive about $430,000 in benefits. As David Brooks has commented, this is an immoral imposition on future generations. Is there a realistic solution to the entitlement, fiscal mess?The most astute solution to our problems is from the work of Tyler Cowen, economist, academic, writer and blogger at George Mason University. Cowen has the ear of both Republicans and Democrats and has a unique ability to make a lot of sense out of a monstrous, complicated mess. Cowen, who blogs on Marginal Revolution, addresses the medicare mess with sensibleness. He suggests that we focus on issues of individual choice.  In addition to that, we’re going to have to get realistic and accept the inevitable rise in taxes for nearly all of us.I’m very curious as to how you think we can resolve our fiscal mess.
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