Once again, Robert Samuelson tries to argue that Social Security is DOOOMMMEEDDD! one Samuelson Unit from now. Samuelson falls back on his old standby–lumping Social Security and Medicare together. Mark Thoma explains:
The main problem is rising medical costs, and unlike the misplaced emphasis on Social Security in the last election, there is a lot of focus on health care reform in the political debate this time around. Samuelson seems to have completely missed the connection between health care reform and his pet column peeve, hence his claim that the problem is being ignored in the political debate when that isn’t the case. In addition, Samuelson’s continual focus on the budget deficit obscures the real problem. It doesn’t matter whether health care is in the public domain or the private domain, the costs will be daunting either way if they continue on their present trajectory, so finding ways to hold down health care costs is where the focus needs to be.
If Samuelson really wants to help, he can quit writing the same misleading and counterproductive column over and over again. Quit saying “cutting retirement benefits or raising taxes” are the “obvious choices” when it’s not obvious at all. Cutting retirement benefits or raising taxes will do nothing to reign in health care costs so these measures do not address the main problem. It’s time for Samuelson to write a new version of this column and address the core issues, or perhaps better yet, just stop writing about these issues altogether.
If we assume that Samuelson is not a stupid man, the only conclusion left is that he is too intellectually dishonest to state that he wants deficit reduction at the price of harming the most effective anti-poverty program ever created in the U.S. What a gutless coward.