Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2000 / 10 Elul, 5760

Michelle Malkin

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

No cure for generational pain -- IF YOU THOUGHT the public uproar over George W. Bush's use of an expletive last weekend was big, imagine the national horror he would have provoked if he had said he was against offering any new Medicare benefits for the elderly.

Al Gore wants to throw $250 billion at seniors to add a universal prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Bush would spend $160 billion to fully subsidize drug coverage for the elderly poor and partially subsidize the Medicare premiums for all other recipients. Both candidates want to be the voice for seniors. Nobody wants to speak for us younger folks who will be forced to foot these enormous bills. Free-lunch politics is a hard habit to break.

The nightly news is filled with heart-wrenching stories of older Americans who must pay for expensive pain killers and heart medication. One CNN reporter highlighted the plight of seventy-five-year-old Bernice, who has osteoporosis, and her 78-year-old husband Syd, a retired doctor himself with a thyroid condition. "Their annual total for prescription drugs: $3,336," the reporter intoned. "After insurance, that's $2,200-plus out of pocket."

What the reporter failed to note is that Bernice and Syd's case is extremely atypical. According to the non-partisan National Academy of Social Insurance, only 4 percent of Medicare recipients have expenses that exceed $2,000. The median out-of-pocket expenditure on prescription drugs for Medicare enrollees is just about $200. Syd says his personal crisis demonstrates the need for a universal health care system that provides drug coverage "for everybody." But two-thirds of seniors already have prescription drug coverage.

Why should every elderly person feel entitled to have someone else to pay for their medicine, anyway? Why should we workers be expected to fork over more of our paychecks to expand Medicare when this socialized health insurance entitlement program remains structurally unsound?

Prescription drug pushers point to healthy trust funds as their cash source. But the Medicare trust fund, like its Social Security counterpart, is illusory. What matters is the Hospital Insurance program's operating balance. That portion of Medicare is laying out more money each year than the Medicare portion of the payroll tax receives. Costs also are escalating in the non-hospital part of the program, financed by premiums and general revenues.

The senior lobby says this country treats retirees inhumanely. It paints a bleak picture of millions of old people living on Spam in order to pay for drugs. Yet, statistics show that elderly household income per capita is on par with the national average. That's pre-tax income upon which the elderly enjoy huge breaks. When you include in-kind benefits like Medicare -- a Cadillac plan compared to what the rest of us in the private market can afford -- the elderly poverty rate is as low as the rate for any age group and half the rate for children.

And for all the apocalyptic rhetoric about shortchanging seniors, federal spending on the elderly comprises more than one-third of the national budget. As the Concord Coalition points out, that doesn't even include retirement benefits to the near-elderly and to civil service and military pensioners.

I firmly believe we owe a debt of gratitude to the Greatest Generation. But we don't owe them – or the Boomers --the kind of bottomless debt that redistributionist panderers Gore and Bush are proposing. Government benefits for the elderly will eat up a whopping 84 percent of budget outlays by 2050 without cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending.

Who will raise their voices for young workers? Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Simpson, an adamant critic of the elderly entitlement explosion, left office in 1996. Democrat Sen. Bob Kerrey, another entitlement reformer, announced his retirement earlier this year. Only diehard policy wonks listen to the Concord Coalition. And today's clueless spokespeople for youth – like Karenna Gore and George P. Bush – haven't paid enough in payroll taxes to buy two cans of Spam.

There's no one left to champion a cure for our impending generational pain. The Republicans have learned you can't speak up for generational equity anymore without being accused of elderly-bashing. Fiscal responsibility is not simply passe. It's profane.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


09/08/00: Notes on a West Coast wilding
09/06/00: Race matters at Washington Post
09/01/00: For those who labor 24/7
08/28/00: There's something about Rudy
08/25/00: A conservative case against Napster
08/22/00: Death Row Marv mocks justice
08/18/00: The party of Maxine Waters
08/14/00: "Make-A-Wish" shoots down dreams
08/10/00: Who will stop Bill Lann Lee?
08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
07/31/00: Hey, GM: Build cars, not quotas
07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
06/23/00: Kids in a public school daze
06/21/00: Fed up with Fannie and Freddie
06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
06/16/00: Dads, daughters, and PETA's spoilsports
06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate