Critique of “A Conservative Plan to Transform America” by Edwin Feulner, Ph. D. In the article entitled “A Conservative Plan to Transform America”, written by Edwin Feulner, Ph. D. , president of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, Dr. Feulner puts forth “solutions” to solve open-ended entitlements. The article identifies the big three entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. By lumping these three programs together, this article is essentially treating all three as one when in fact each program has a very different purpose, problems, and potential solutions.
These programs are in place to provide America with a safety net and help make our society strong and its citizens not dependent on Government. Social Security was enacted for the purpose of providing a safety net for the elderly to help them out of poverty. According to U. S. Social Security Administration’s own figures, 23% of retired married couples and 46% of retired unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. Not only does Social Security provide a safety net for the poor elderly, but it provides financial stability to the middle class during downturns in the economy.
Social Security is completely funded by payroll taxes. Unlike Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security is on a much stronger financial footing. The Congressional Budget Office has said that “over the next twenty years spending on Social Security will increase from only 5% of GDP to 6% of the GDP”1. Based on the figures presented, only minor changes are needed to ensure the Social Security stays solvent well into the future. The amount of Social Security benefits one receives is based on the income and work history.
Therefore an informed citizen cannot and does not expect to get something they did not earn. However, they can expect to get what they put into Social Security. Social Security helps make the elderly independent and therefore America stronger. Medicare was created in 1965 because it became apparent that older Americans could no longer afford health care. Older Americans had half the income as younger citizens, but paid three times the amount for healthcare. Basic Medicare (Medicare Plan A and B) provides a safety net for the middle class and poor elderly.
Simply put if Medicare did not exist then these middle class Americans would fall into poverty because of the ever increasing medical costs associated with their age. Medicare is paid for through a combination of payroll taxes, Medicare premiums, and funds authorized by elected officials in Congress. Rising Medicare costs is an issue, but not necessarily a immediate crises. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Medicare spending was 3. 25% in 2011 and will increase to about 6% by 2035. “1. Medical care cost is increasing for everyone, not just Medicare.
Thus, there needs to be a effort to reduce medical costs for everyone, not just the elderly. The majority of Americans have paid taxes and contributed to the Medicare system during their working life and are informed citizens. They do not expect to get Medicare benefits they did not earn. Medicaid was also enacted with Medicare in 1965 to help to provide care for low income adults, their children, and people with certain disabilities. Unlike the previous two entitlements, Medicaid is a federal/state partnership with each providing about 50% of the funding.
Because Medicaid serves the poor population, during economic hard times, the enrollment increases. Once the economy rebounds, then Medicaid enrollment goes down. Each state controls its Medicaid program, with most states contracting with private health insurance companies to manage Medicaid through a bidding process. This negates the Dr. Feulner solution of “give needy families options on how to spend their Medicaid money by allowing them to purchase quality private insurance”, as private insurance comprises most eligible citizens.
By the Congressional Budget Office figures, “in 2011 Medicaid accounted for 2% of GDP. Medicaid is projected to increase to 3% by 2035″1. With only a 1% increase, Dr. Feulner and the Heritage Foundation is creating a crises where one does not exist. States will likely absorb most of the cost increases, but they also have the flexibility to put solutions in place to manage those cost increases. Citizens do not expect our government to give them something that they did not earn, but they do expect the Government to care for those that do not have the means or ability.
Dr. Feulner and the Heritage Foundation have put forth conservative ideas on ways to solve the problems of the these entitlement programs. But according to the data, these problems can be solved with minor corrections/changes and do not need to have such radical overhauls. With minor changes, Social Security shortcomings can be overcome. The data shows that Medicaid and Medicare GDP percentage will increase along with private health insurance because of the growth in medical costs. The only way to decrease this is by
Congress working with the private sector in reducing the growth of these medical costs. These entitlement programs are necessary to keep America strong and competitive . The average informed citizen does not expect the Government to give them something that they did not earn. They do expect the Government to put programs in place to strengthen America, therefore promoting American Democracy. References 1. Congressional Budget Office. ” CBO’s 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook” http://www. cbo. gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/06-21-Long-Term_Budget_Outlook. pdf