Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER
The Washington Post tells readers that there's a consensus among budget experts in favor of cuts to Social Security and Medicare:
Many Democrats and Republicans say they are open to major changes to Social Security and Medicare, possibly including raising the retirement age and limiting Medicare benefits to those who need them most.
While spending on the recession - including the bank bailouts and economic stimulus package - fueled voter anger during the 2010 campaign season, budget analysts across the political spectrum agree that popular Medicare and Social Security programs will have to be overhauled to truly cure the nation's ills.
That isn't true, as Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes:
For example, a book that was co-authored by Peter Orszag, who had been President Obama's director of the Office of Managament and Budget, and Peter Diamong, a Nobel Laureatte and Obama nominee to Fed, suggests relatively modest changes to Social Security. In fact, virtually all budget analysts across the political spectrum agree that the shortfall in the Social Security program is relatively minor.
Indeed, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security would be fine for the next 75 years if we simply removed the cap on income subjected to payroll taxes. No "overhaul" or increase in the retirement age or benefit cuts necessary.
As for Medicare, "budget analysts" like Gene Sperling (currently the head of the National Economic Council) have argued that "the per-person costs of Medicare are rising because health-care costs for our entire society are rising … the most effective way to control the spiraling costs of Medicare and Medicaid is not taking a meat-axe to these programs, but finding ways to lower health-care cost inflation." Baker has repeatedly argued that Medicare would be easily affordable and "we would be facing huge long-run budget surpluses, not deficits" if per-person health care costs were brought in line with those in other countries.
In pretending that there is unanimity among budget analysts about the need to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits, the Post tells us more about its own blind spots than about the budget.