Kotlikoff: Why We’re Going Broke

The US has spent the entire post-war period running a massive and ever-growing Ponzi scheme that takes from the young and gives to the old. … The scheme has been and is being run by expanding take-as-you-go-financed Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid systems, by running huge official deficits, and by imposing a larger share of taxes on the young and a smaller share on the old. [It has] reduced the US’s national saving rate from 13% in the 1950s and 1960s to 3% in the last two decades. This underlies, in large part, a commensurate drop in the domestic investment rate, which was also 13% between 1950 and 1969 and is now running at 4%. The textbook predicted consequence? Lower median labor productivity and median real wage growth. More

Dangers in Nationalizing Health Care

Forbes

Thousands forcibly sterilized by the progressives in the early 20th century. Experimentation (by withholding treatment) on black males with syphilis in the mid century. Swine flu vaccine that killed people without preventing the flu in the 1970s. More.

Costly Surprises are Hidden in Medicare’s Rules

Forbes

You can’t trust that you are getting the real story from Social Security and Medicare websites. Medicare tells seniors they don’t have to sign up for Part B and Part D coverage if the gap between jobs is 8 months or less. The surprise: it counts the gap between ever job change and life time penalties can be a 20% increase in premiums or more. It also doesn’t warn seniors that taking capital gain can double or triple their Medicare premiums. More.

Social Security Cheated 11,000 Widows Out of $130 Million

Forbes

That’s the estimate of the Office of Inspector General and it averages $10,000 a piece. Social Security personnel have been signing up widows for widow’s benefits and retirement benefits at the same time – thereby robbing them of much high retirement benefits they would have later qualified for if the paperwork had been done correctly. More

Climate Change: We Don’t Have to Sacrifice for Future Generations

Greta Thunberg, the determined 16-year-old Swedish activist, has it wrong. If there is an economic payoff from avoiding global warming, there is no reason why the current generation should bear all the costs and future generations should get all the benefits. The climate can be fixed in a manner that makes every generation in every part of the world better off. More.

Goodman and Herrick: Obamacare Has Made Things Worse

Ignoring the tax subsidies (both at work and in the individual market), things have gotten worse for people with chronic health conditions – because of Obamacare. Premiums have doubled. Deductibles have tripled. And narrow networks exclude the best doctors and the best hospitals. The reason: Obamacare gives insurers perverse incentives to attract the healthy and avoid the sick. People with health problems are being mistreated because no health plan wants them.
John Goodman and Devon Herrick, study for the Heritage Foundation.

The Left Doesn’t Understand Health Care Prices

Forbes

What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Health Care Prices
If prices are the problem, why don’t they advocate price controls – requiring all providers to accept Medicare fees. If providers are making too much money, why don’t they advocate taxing provider incomes and giving patients tax rebates based on their medical expenses. These measure would be bad, but easy – much easier than trying to nationalize the entire health care system. More from John Goodman at Forbes.

Are Some Drug Prices Too Low?

When people think about drug pricing in the United States, they tend to think of the sky-high prices of some newer drugs. High prices do cause real problems. Some people in need may go without. People may also go without needed drugs because prices are too low. More.

Tax Law Changes: Good, Bad and Ugly

Forbes

The good: People can contribute to IRAs regardless of age, 401(k) balances can be converted into annuities and retirees can go another year and a half before there are required withdrawals from tax deferred accounts. The bad: heirs are required to withdraw deferred accounts more quickly (10 years). The ugly: industries that agreed to be taxed in order to fund Obamacare get their taxes rescinded, without any reform of the mess they helped create. More.

Kotlikoff: Real Federal Debt is $239 trillion

Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.