Because most Democrats have idiotically bought into the notion that federal debt is the same as private debt (it’s not), they have become obsessed with balancing budgets–and harming the programs that help millions of Americans. Republicans also beat the deficit drum, when it’s convenient, and when it’s not they just deficit spend anyway. Democrats might want to learn something from that. Basically, austerioeroticism has been used to maneuver Democrats into savaging their trademark programs for no reason. Because here’s what the Romney team has hinted they might do to ‘keep Medicare solvent’ (boldface mine):
So Roy, who granted is an outside advisor, suggests putting general budget savings into the Medicare program. This is exactly the nightmare that Republicans have been warning about exploding health care costs – that they would eat up more and more of the federal budget. Furthermore, I don’t even think this would work – you’re talking about budgetary savings in the Coburn document. To apply those to the Medicare trust fund, you would have to designate a portion of general revenues over. You cannot say “we saved in this pot, so we can spend more in that pot.” That’s not how trust fund accounting works. So what Roy really calls for is the dissolution of the Medicare trust fund as an outside, dedicated revenue source for Medicare. This is exactly what Republicans fear, in other contexts.
What’s interesting is that there is one part of the safety net which is ‘solvent’ forever–parts B and D of Medicare. Why? Stephanie Kelton explains:
The Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to remain solvent until 2029. The Disability Insurance (DI) fund is projected to become exhausted in 2018. And the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund is considered adequately financed until 2040. In contrast:
Part B of Supplemental Medical Insurance (SMI), which pays for doctors’ bills and other outpatient expenses, and Part D, which pays for access to prescription drug coverage, are both projected to remain adequately financed into the indefinite future because current law automatically provides financing each year to meet the next year’s expected costs.
In other words, it is sustainable — INDEFINITELY — because the government is committed to making the payments. Indefinitely.
I have a feeling if Romney is elected, they’ll just do an end run around the accounting and reward their elderly constituents. Republicans have shown a willingness to not play by ‘rules of custom’ when it suits them (e.g., eleventy gajillion filibusters). So they’ll back Democrats into a politically untenable corner with deficit rhetoric during the campaign and then ignore that rhetoric–and rightly so–when it’s their turn to govern. Even if it’s not a winning strategy for the election, they still could win the lame duck session and damage a whole bunch of things I would like when I retire.
The ideological blindness of the Democratic blindness is both tragic and pathetic.