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Senator Simpson's Quick Budget Quiz

By       Message Dean Baker     Permalink
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It is worth noting that the gains in life expectancy also have not been distributed evenly. Most of the gains went to those in the top two quintiles of the income distribution.

5) The United States has by far the most inefficient health care system on the planet. We pay more than twice as much per person as people in other wealthy countries with very little to show for it in terms of health outcomes. If we had the same per-person health care costs as any other country in the world, the long-term budget projections would show huge surpluses rather than deficit.

6) Senator Simpson has repeatedly held up the image of affluent elderly getting Social Security checks. He talks of seniors driving up to their gated communities in their Lexuses. While this may describe Senator Simpson's friends, it is not an accurate description of the vast majority of seniors, most of whom rely on Social Security for the majority of their income.

This is likely to be even more true of the baby boom generation that is at the edge of retirement. Few have traditional defined benefit pensions. They have seen much of the wealth they were able to accumulate destroyed by the collapse of the housing bubble and the subsequent plunge in the stock market.

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7) Senator Simpson is still working into his late 70s as is, no doubt, the case with many of his friends also. These leads many deficit hawk types to think all workers should be expected to work until 70 or even older.

However, this is not likely to be as easy for most workers as it is for Senator Simpson. Forty-five percent of workers over age 58 work at jobs that are physically demanding or have difficult work conditions.

So, there you have it: seven key facts about Social Security, the budget and the well-being of workers and retirees. Senator Simpson should know this information inside out.

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But does he? Try asking him. If he can restrain his curses and insults long enough, maybe we can find out if he is qualified for the position he holds. At this point, we only know that he has a poor understanding of the anatomy of barnyard animals.

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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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