The July 2011 Co-Presidents Message, Bonnie & John

There’s no doubt about it. Both Medicare and Social Security are in danger of going broke. Trustees of each system recently released reports that Medicare will become insolvent in 2024, while Social Security will be unable to meet its full obligations in 2036. These reports are based on assumptions that nothing will be done to prevent the death of these systems.

Because both programs are valued by the public, governmental officials and citizens alike have offered rescue plans.

One that the Republican-led House of Representatives passed in its version of the budget caps Medicare costs by making it a voucher system to allow the public to buy health insurance. Increasing costs of health care costs would then be borne by individuals instead of the government, since insurance tends to exclude payments for many costs.

Republicans have also endorsed changing Social Security to operate like a 401K plan. This would allow individuals to invest in securities and other financial products to provide for retirement. This plan would also put the burden on the individual; whoever did not make the best retirement investments would suffer the consequences of poverty.

Both proposals fail as measures to ensure that we who have paid for existing programs get what we paid for. And neither requires that high income earners pay the same percentage of their incomes for these programs as those of us who earn less, which is a flaw in our cur-rent systems; currently, contributions from high income earners ends at $106,800. Why not remove this cap, so all pay their fair share?

And, why not have all governmental employees at all levels pay into the national systems instead of the diverse national, state, and local pension plans? These plans are often underfunded by officials or poorly invested in hedge funds and other shaky financial products. Including more workers in the national programs would boost needed revenues.

Furthermore, why can’t the Medicare drug prescription plan control costs like the Veterans Administration by using competitive bidding and bulk purchasing to reduce drug prices? Such practices would make Medicare funds stretch farther.

Needless to say, Republicans are against these alternatives and others as well. Why because their constituents who elected them are not their main concern. Republicans consider banks, insurance companies, Wall Street financial organizations, and big pharmaceutical firms to be more important than those who elected them.