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Third Way Needs To Get Real, Stop Swinging Its Social Security-Medicare Ax

By       Message Dean Baker     Permalink
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Cowan and Kessler go on to display a remarkable ability to ignore changing facts. They tell us:

"As evidence [that the program's financial situations can improve], some liberals point to this year's Medicare trustee report, in which the program's fiscal outlook -- mercifully -- improved. In truth, it improved from horrid to awful."

Actually, since 2008 the Medicare trustees have reduced their projection of the shortfall in the program by almost 70 percent. Most people would consider that a pretty big deal.

But Cowan and Kessler make their agenda as clear as possible at the end of the column:

"Fantasy No. 4 is that the politics to fix entitlements will get better. In fact, the politics will get worse every election cycle. In 2012, one out of six voters was a senior citizen. By 2024, one in four will be, based on the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract. How will we possibly fix safety-net programs for the elderly then? The answer: on the backs of the working-age middle class."

Of course the politics only gets worse if the goal is to cut rather than preserve these programs. Cowan and Kessler's Census numbers are exactly what many on the left have in mind in saying that the politics will get better. It will almost certainly be much more difficult politically to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits in 10 years than it is today.

That is clearly very frightening to Cowan and Kessler, but good news to the people who support these programs. And in a country where an ever larger share of income is going to the rich, there will be ample opportunities to ensure that the working-age middle class does not suffer.

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Dr. Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. (more...)
 

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