By Tom Quiner
1. Match Medicare’s retirement age to that of Social Security’s. SS’s is increasing to 67 years. Let Medicare follow suit.
2. Go a step further. Eventually raise it to 70 years. This should be phased in over a period of time, perhaps ten to fifteen years. People live longer now than when these programs were initiated. It makes practical sense. Even more, it is a practical necessity.
3. Modify the SS cost-of-living indexing system. The current system overstates inflation by indexing it to wages, not prices. An index based on price inflation is a more honest and affordable way to go.
4. Block grant Medicare to the states. Let’s reduce the federal bureaucracy and let dedicated public servants at the state level administer the programs. Doesn’t it make sense that we can serve people best the closer we are to them?
5. Limit food stamp eligibility. Numbers have exploded. Is the safety net getting too high?
Will this solve our long term structural problems? Conservatives would quickly answer a resounding no. This is but a small down payment. But liberals deny we even have a spending problem.
I encourage House Republicans to pass a law with these elements in it and send it over to the Senate.
Let’s get something practical done and let the debate begin. The ideas above are not unreasonable. Some have even had bipartisan support in years past. There may be enough Senate Democrats facing reelection in two years who could get behind these ideas to send the bill to Obama.
Would he sign it? Who knows? Nonetheless, Republicans have to start somewhere. These five ideas seem a good starting point.