What SS and Medicare reforms WOULD Sen Pryor support?

I asked Sen. Mark Pryor Tuesday what reforms to Social Security and Medicare he WOULD support during a press conference where he received the endorsement of the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare.

He said he supported cutting waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare; allowing it to bargain for prescription drugs; and emphasizing preventive care. When pressed, he criticized his opponent’s votes and then called for bipartisan solutions.

We cannot balance the budget without reforming Social Security and Medicare. Mandatory spending, of which those two programs are the major part, composes 64 percent of the federal budget, and that number will rise as the baby boomers age.

Pryor knows this, but he’s not going to say so during an election year.

At least he acknowledged there’s a problem.

2 thoughts on “What SS and Medicare reforms WOULD Sen Pryor support?

  1. Steve,
    the problem with a vague term like “reform” is that it can hide what is truly intended. I suggest that you say what you mean, which is that you believe CUTS in Medicare and Social Security are necessary to balance the budget?
    The fact is, cutting Social Security and Medicare is not necessary to balance the budget and you really ought to know that Social Security taxes are dedicated funds and are off-budget.
    The way to increase revenue for Social Security is to lift the cap on earnings for Social Security taxes, which is currently $117,000 per year. People earning more than that–and there are lots of them–pay less as percentage of income than those who earn below the cap. There is already a bill in congress to do that…but it would mean the wealthy will have to pay more so it won’t see the light of day in the US House as it is currently led.

  2. Hi, Brad.

    Thanks for reading and for writing. I’ll be more specific. We have to spend less on Social Security and Medicare AND raise revenues.

    For Social Security, I would support lifting the earnings cap, raising the retirement age and means-testing. We can get there fairly easily that way. And by the way, you must know that while Social Security is off-budget, its funds have been raided to pay for other programs. There’s no money in the bank.

    Medicare is much harder. It has to be done in the context of health care reform that actually reduces costs. A combination of means-testing and raising the eligibility age are other reforms I would support. Medicare also needs a budget, and the fee-for-service model needs to be revamped. There also needs to be a careful look at end-of-life spending. Where are we doing good, and where are we prolonging suffering? Vouchers are a terrible idea.

    None of this will be easy, and it will require a serious discussion. My problem with Sen. Pryor’s campaign tactics – and, I must say, with events like yesterday’s press conference – is that they give Americans the false sense that we don’t have to make tough choices. If you aren’t willing to cut/reform/whatever these programs, then we’re going to have to raise taxes significantly. I’m willing to do that if that’s the only choice, but are the American people?

    I agree with you that we must protect Social Security and Medicare. What is your solution for doing that and balancing the budget? Because we can’t keep putting our kids in debt.

    Again, thanks for reading and for writing. You’re right – “reform” is a weasel word, and I’m going to stop using it.

    Steve Brawner

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