Obamacare Delay Increases Costs and Complications

Putting off a minor provision could have a ripple effect on the Affordable Care Act

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Stephen Lam / Getty Images

President Barack Obama speaks about Affordable Care Act at The Fairmont Hotel on June 6, 2013 in San Jose, Calif.

For a massive law that will reorganize nearly the entire U.S. health care system, the one-year delay of a relatively minor provision would seem a mere blip. But the Obama Administration’s recent announcement that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate will kick in a year late could ripple beyond the brief extension, increasing costs and complicating implementation of other vital parts of the law.

In delaying the employer mandate — which requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to workers or pay federal penalties — the Obama Administration is yielding to pressure from some business leaders who have been critical of the provision and tacitly acknowledging Obamacare’s potential as political kryptonite. As Republican opponents have pointed out, the move conveniently removes the issue from the 2014 elections. These Republicans are now calling for an investigation into the delay.

(MORE: Delay in Obamacare Law Provision Raises Doubts at Critical Stage of Rollout)

“It was obviously generating a lot of vocal complaining, and there were some technical issues the Administration wanted more time to work on anyway,” says Paul Van de Water, a federal-budget expert at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The delay “was more of a way of indicating flexibility and responsiveness to employers’ concerns.”

The vast majority of large employers that would be subject to the mandate already offer insurance to workers. “The practical effect of the employer mandate on coverage in 2014 is not going to be very large,” Van de Water notes. Yet, the decision to delay its implementation by a year shows the White House is hitting unexpected bumps as it rolls out the law. Just days after announcing the mandate delay, the Administration eased subsidy-eligibility-verification requirements for the 16 states that have opted to run their own private insurance exchanges (the marketplaces where private insurance will be sold beginning next year).

This week the Administration said it was hiring Clinton-era health-care-policy expert Chris Jennings to assist with ACA implementation. He will have his hands full. On July 9, one day after his new job was announced, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity rolled out a reported $700,000 television ad campaign in Ohio and Virginia meant to further erode public confidence in Obamacare. “Can I really trust the folks in Washington with my family’s health care?” asks the spot’s main character, a young mother.

Whatever political benefit the Administration accrues in the delay will come at taxpayer expense, as the move will increase the cost of Obamacare. The provision was expected to generate some $10 billion in revenue in the form of penalties that employers not offering coverage would have incurred in 2014. Adding to that cost is the fact that many workers whose employers decide not to offer coverage in 2014 will now be eligible to receive federal subsidies to buy individual insurance policies through state or federal exchanges. The delay does not change the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to have insurance coverage beginning in 2014.

The eventual cost of the federal subsidies made available by Obamacare is one piece of the law likely to remain in flux for years to come. The Supreme Court’s 2012 decision to make the ACA’s state-by-state Medicaid expansion optional increased the number of people eligible for subsidies in states that are not growing their Medicaid programs as the law originally called for. (About half of all states are fully on board with the expansion, while the rest are refusing outright or designing alternate coverage plans for the poor.) And while the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that some 20 million Americans will be eligible for subsidies by 2023, the cost of subsidizing this population is dependent on income and employment and subject to changes in the economy.

MORE: And Now, the Selling of Obamacare

51 comments
Onepatriot
Onepatriot

The Republican group Americans for Prosperity shouldn't be allowed to slow the implementation of the first real reform of our healthcare system which has been broken for so long.  Push forward and don't give in to these complaining businesses and hospitals who've been milking the system for years.  These Republicans in Congress that won't do anything to move our country forward are nothing but the party of no, and won't help the economy by making the reforms that are needed.  Fixing our infrastructure, i.e. roads and bridges, electrical grid, and healthcare for all are important to all of us.

tpaine
tpaine

That this delay is going to cost the American taxpayer hundreds of millions more is of absolutely NO concern to Obama who has doubled the national debt in less than five years. 

He has his "low info" voters who are totally invested in him regardless of the fate of their fellow Americans.  This on-going Democrat created and prolonged Recession . . . even as five of the wealthiest counties in the nation are centered around Washington D.C. . .  is witness enough.

Want proof?  Read on.

AdamRussell
AdamRussell

I love the republicans.

"Obama had no right to delay the mandate that we fought so hard against"

JamesWordsmith
JamesWordsmith

ObamaCare needs to be seriously modified and repaired before it evolves into another Federal boondoggle and unsustainable entitlement like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

The current problems might have been avoided IF had Democrats embraced compromise with Republicans instead of ramming it into law without anyone reading the final bill.

SteveJameson
SteveJameson

ObamaCare is used toilet paper.  Flush it where it belongs!!!

gysgt213
gysgt213

By the way. HOW ABOUT WRITING ABOUT JOBS!  How about asking some questions concerning the entire government's lack of focus on jobs.

MikeMarion
MikeMarion

I supported  Obama. I contributed to his campaigns. I voted for him twice, but this is the final straw.

First his administration caved and passed a seriously flawed insurance mandate program instead of  true Health Care Reform. Then he wasted years begging the Republicans to support him. Now he is caving again on implementation of  what little he has accomplished. I continue to get E-Mail asking me to support the President and the Affordable Care Act. 

Tell you what President Obama, How about you support it first, then ask for my support.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> Yet, the decision to delay its implementation by a year shows the White House is hitting unexpected bumps as it rolls out the law.

I wouldn't say the hitting of bumps is 'unexpected'. Any complex, large scale project is going to have issues pop up; those 'bumps' are what you feel when you rub up against reality.

Let's go back for some history...take Social Security, for example. Not only did the SSA have to figure out how to assign and administer SSNs to eligible Americans and maintain lifetime wage records, they didn't initially have a budget or even an decent office space to work out of. Medicare had structural challenges as well (pdf). And I'm not even mentioning the politics surrounding those programs.

The implementation of Social Security and Medicare - processes, Congressional amendments affecting coverage, technology - have never really stopped. Unless they are discontinued, those programs will never really be 'finished'. For similar reasons, it is an unrealistic expectation that the PPACA will roll out complete and perfected and without delays or changes as the program moves through time and runs up against reality.

> These Republicans are now calling for an investigation into the delay.

Idiots. Any delay or issue with implementation doesn't benefit Dems; the howler monkeys of the Right will just have another nontroversy to hoot about.

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

As an outsider and follower of the American democratic process I can not but state my opinion. The first 4 years of the Obama presidency were indistinctively a Republican presidency. The first 2 years the Democrats had the majority of both houses, but the undecisiveness and the fright of the newly acquired power spooked the wits away of Obama. 2 years wasted. Obama care should have been passed in its original package. This is only one example of what the weaknesses of this president have been used by the Republicans to govern by proxy. Not only this, if for any reason every thing went bad the Republicans can point out that it wasn't their fault, it was the Democrat and Obama's. They have done this over and over and Obama keeps on falling in the same trap. Look at Libya. It was the Republicans that insisted to overthrow Gadhafi, but when the so called freedom fighters killed the people in the American Embassy, they blamed everything on Obama. What about Afghanistan?  And on, and on.

And now the turn is Syria. One of the these Republican warrior senators, going against reason and history (Remember the member of the house that delivered arms to the Talibans in Afghanistan) went there to give moral and perhaps arms support, to these terrorists and cannibals. If something goes wrong, and with all probability it will, these warmongers are going to blame Obama.

 Obama's second term is starting, will he ever learn? He doesn't realize that he is the President, that he was elected to govern and not to follow the instruction from the losers.   

grape_crush
grape_crush

> ...conservative group Americans for Prosperity rolled out a reported 700,000 television ad campaign in Ohio and Virginia meant to further erode public confidence in Obamacare.

Nothing new with right wingers being on the wrong side of history:

"

Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine."

Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” 

Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” 

The American Medical Association was vehement, with Dr. Donovan Ward, the head of the A.M.A. in 1965, declaring that “a deterioration in the quality of care is inescapable.” The president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons went further and suggested that for doctors to cooperate with Medicare would be “complicity in evil.”

The Wall Street Journal warned darkly in editorials in 1965 that Medicare amounted to “politicking with a nation’s health.” It quoted a British surgeon as saying that in Britain, government health care was “crumbling to utter ruin” and suggested that the United States might be heading in the same direction. 

"

Of course, those arguments against Medicare weren't exactly new either:

"

Indeed, these same arguments we hear today against health reform were used even earlier, to attack President Franklin Roosevelt’s call for Social Security. It was denounced as a socialist program that would compete with private insurers and add to Americans’ tax burden so as to kill jobs.

Daniel Reed, a Republican representative from New York, predicted that with Social Security, Americans would come to feel “the lash of the dictator.” Senator Daniel Hastings, a Delaware Republican, declared that Social Security would “end the progress of a great country.”

John Taber, a Republican representative from New York, went further and said of Social Security: “Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers.”

 "

barneydidit
barneydidit

So If I'm following the order of events properly...The then Democratic-led House passed a bill that provided for a Public Option as a method of providing health benefits to everyone in the country that needs them. The bill received a 60% support rate from the country, and was scheduled to be passed by the Senate Democrats and signed by Obama. 

The Senate Republicans called the bill "dead on arrival", and threatened to filibuster it because it was "a big government takeover of healthcare" (even though it was OPTIONAL).  So the Democrats in Congress went with plan B- an insurance mandate concept that had been conceived by Republicans in the 90's, supported by Conservatives across the board at the time, and even supported by the Heritage Foundation as a solution that promotes "Individual responsibility".  Congress passed it, Obama signed it, and Conservatives have been telling us ever since that all the problems associated with health care reform in this country are the fault of Democrats....classic. 

Joshua2514
Joshua2514

@AdamRussell Republicans are generally useless.

CONSERVATIVES object to the Obamacare mandates for the same reason we object to Obama's decision to delay them; we believe that the Constitution and rule of law still matter.

I do not like the Obamacare law, but it is the law.  What I hate (and fear) is the balance of power in our government shifting to the executive and judicial branches at the expense of our elected representatives in the legislative branch.  Obamacare will work, or not, on it's own.  But if we accept that laws enacted by congress are just suggestions that the president and supreme court can implement, or not, at their discretion, then we no longer have a functioning republic. 

professorphil
professorphil

@AdamRussell 

Hey, he doesn't get to force passage of a law that we all must obey and then arbitrarily excuse himself from the parts that are required of the executive branch, yet are politically inconvenient. Apparently he is a little president-congress and he can just make laws up or change laws that have been duly passed as required by the Constitution (this type of ruler is also known as a king).  Wow, come to think of it he's actually a little portable constitutional convention too since he gets to re-write the bedrock rules in the Constitution that have served us well, in order to "get something done."  If  you like this, I'm pretty sure that you will also be okay when  a conservative president in the future arbitrarily decides that the requirement to pay taxes on capital gains can just be waived.  Do I have that right?

tpaine
tpaine

@AdamRussell well, until you can show "harm," you can't file a lawsuit.  Fortunately, the "individual mandate" (er, "tax") is going to take effect in three month and it will create the largest instance of civil disobedience and class action lawsuit in the nation's history.

The ObamaCare Tax, like McCain-Feingold before it, is going to die a long, slow, painful death by a thousand cuts.

jmac
jmac

@JamesWordsmith ". . . had Democrats embraced compromise with Republicans. . . "  

It's a Republican health care plan.  It's Romney care.  It's Nixon Care.  It's the Heritage Foundation care.  It's NOT a Democratic plan.  It was written by the same guy who wrote Romneycare.  Obama called him in when he rejected the Democratic House and Senate plans.   It's a compromise.   Republicans bragged on the campaign trail about what they got in it as they told everyone Obama was going to cut their Medicare as he cleaned up Medicare Advantage (a wasteful program).  

And Grape is, as usual, right.  You're dead wrong on  Social Security.   But seeing your opinions on healthcare, who's surprised?    

tommyudo
tommyudo

@JamesWordsmith 


If you are going to come on here then be informed to  some degree. SS is NOT an entitlement. People have paid into it over their working years. It's money coming back to you. It's your money. As for Medicare, ask some of those Tea Party types whether they want their Medicare abolished. The program works and any adjustments are essentially tweaks that aren't being dealt with because the GOP wants it to rot on the vine, so we can go back to the "good old days" of the 1920s and before, when the elderly were essentially living with their own type of "death panel."

I have to wonder about both your age and your lack of historiical perspective.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@gysgt213 Or if you must write about healthcare, write about how to make it cheaper and who is supporting those plans, and who is blocking them and why.


How about researching healthcare decisions by politicians and relating them to who benefits most and who is contributing to those politician's campaigns.

How about a comparison of Obamacare to other programs in other countries.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of both?

jmac
jmac

@MikeMarion Your rant is annoying.  Obama was very very very clear on health care when he ran.   In one of the last debates with Hillary, he explained his health care plan -  no mandate and a Republican plan (with Michael Moore in the audience looking sick -   A week later Michael Moore endorsed him).     Obama had to be "dragged kicking and screaming" into the mandate option.  If you and Michael Moore supported Obama on health care, you have no one to blame but yourself.

"This week the Administration said it was hiring Clinton-era health-care-policy expert Chris Jennings to assist with ACA implementation. He will have his hands full."   NOW Obama is going to call in help from Hillary when he was all too eager to take the House and Senate health care plans and call in Romney's "expert" on health care.  Don't blame Obama on this if you voted for him in the primary or you voted for him based on health care.  He was very clear he was never a Democrat on health care.  Or education.  Or the economy.  



tommyudo
tommyudo

@grape_crush 


Are you expecting a reporter for TIME to have an historical perspective? There would be less catnip then for the Reich Wing to go bonkers.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@RamonRoman In my opinion that is the difference between democrats and republicans.


Democrats, in general, tend to be thinkers.  They approach problems by thinking, pondering, considering, and arguing.  

Republicans, in general, tend to be doers.  They quickly find an answer and begin to implement it.  

This is why when democrats where in charge they took forever to get anything done.  It takes a lot of effort to get all democrats on board with anything.  Which means basically nothing, but the most obvious solutions get implemented.  But the solutions they do come up with are usually reasonable (that is reasonable for them.  I'm not saying all democrats always act in the best interest of the country).

Republicans tend to rely on gut instinct to reach a decision and then begin to implement it.  This leads to many poor plans that get implemented quickly of efficiently.  This explains why they are often wrong, but can easily unify to get things done. 

Ideally what you would have is republicans taking the best ideas from the democrats and running with them, while democrats slow them down and keep them from doing stupid things.  

This being the internet, i feel obligated to point out that this is in general and can't really be applied to any individual politician.  It is also only one of many ways of looking at it.  For example you could divide between community responsibility (democrats) vs individual responsibility (republican). 

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@RamonRoman 

Standard of living in Libya before(!) "revolution":
 
* Gross domestic product per capita - $14 192
* On each member of the family the state pays in a year of $1000 grants
* An unemployment benefit - $730
* A salary of the nurse - $1000
* $7000 are paid for each newborn
* Newly married $64000 for apartment purchase are granted
* On opening of personal business single financial support - $20 000
* Large taxes and requisitions are forbidden
* Education and medicine the free (!)
* Education and training abroad - at the expense of the state
* A retail network for large families with the symbolical prices for the main food
* For sale of products with the delayed expiration date - heavy fines, Detention police
* the Part of drugstores with free release of medicines
* For a fake of medicines - the death penalty
* the Rent - is absent
* the Board for the electric power is absent...
 
Libya – dipping in a chasm. Proteges of those who bombed Libya and dethroned a mode of Kaddafi, with all evidence don't manage to drive this difficult country. The new authorities all resort to violence more widely. In reply the oppositional territories and tribes increase armed resistance. Tinsel of the democratic slogans imported from the West didn't replace in the opinion of Libyans of laws of the Libyan Jamahiriya. The people didn't accept a puppet mode. Libya turns into Afghanistan.  

Guvner
Guvner

@barneydidit  

This is not true. The GOP HAD NO FILIBUSTER POWER at that time. This one is all on the Democrats.

AndrewHvatum
AndrewHvatum

@Sibir Actually, I'm being unfair in my comments. The problem is not Russia or Russians, but Putin's and his weapons exporting friends. Putin has turned a country with a gigantic budget surplus into a country which has a growing deficit and is running down its foreign reserves, like it's ally Venezuela. There are a lot of smart Russians who realize the problem though. 

AndrewHvatum
AndrewHvatum

@Sibir It says it all that the Russian line is that Obama is responsible for the deficit. No doubt Russia would love Republicans to be voted in and pass another gigantic tax cut which has not been paid for. As Bush said, he looked into Putin's eye, and saw he was a good man. *SNARK*

Keep having wet dreams of a US economic collapse, back in reality the fiscal deficit is shrinking every day while Russia's is growing. Wasn't it the case that oil would remain forever high because the US would go on a money printing spree? Ah wait, looks like QE is easing down and US inflation is still lower than Russian. 

professorphil
professorphil

@anon76 @AdamRussell

Hey, he can't pass a law and force everyone to comply with it -and then excuse himself from the parts that are politically inconvenient.  If he gets to selectively enforce the laws based on what is convenient for him and his party then that makes him a miniature congress-president (also known as a king). Hypothetically, if a conservative president decided to waive compliance with parts of the tax law related to the taxation of dividends, would that be okay with you?  

tpaine
tpaine

@tommyudo @JamesWordsmith another Democrat myth.  The GOP want it to operate the way it was intended and did up until LBJ - like a true "trust fund" where the money is INVESTED and not squandered on other government programs with only an IOU from the same folks that stole it to begin with.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @tpaine@grape_crush@JamesWordsmith> Both Social Security and Medicare/Caid are ALREADY running in the red. 

Social Security is now in the red? Not true. SSI is projected to be good through ~2037 and will be able to pay ~75% of its currently scheduled benefits after that.

Medicare/Caid? That trust fund is expected to be solvent through 2026 (recently extended by two years thanks to reduced spending via the PPACA.)

@professorphil > In the early years Social Security had a much larger number of workers supporting a relative few recipients.

No, in the early years, money had to be put aside for payment of the SSI benefit because there weren't enough tax receipts yet in the fund that could be used for the number of recipients.

> ...in fact without changes the program is now unsustainable

The program as it exists now will not be able to pay the full benefit, correct. However, it is sustainable at a reduced benefit level if nothing changes and can be fixed for the forseeable future by, say, raising the cap on taxable income. Either way, calling SSI 'unsustainable' is hogwash.

@Guvner> The GOP had absolutely no input whatsoever in the bill or Impact on it's final legislation. 

Bullsht.

"Almost no one is noting the extraordinary influence Republicans had on the healthcare reform bill crafted by the Senate, as it made its way through the committee process last year. The bill approved by Sen. Christopher Dodd’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, for instance, included 161 amendments authored by Republicans. Only 49 Republican amendments were rejected out of 210 considered.  Yet the bill got zero Republican votes when it passed out of the committee."

And more BS.

"At this point, I don't think it's well understood how many of the GOP's central health-care policy ideas have already been included as compromises in the health-care bill. But one good way is to look at the GOP's 'Solutions for America' homepage, which lays out its health-care plan in some detail. It has four planks. All of them -- yes, you read that right -- are in the Senate health-care bill."

Guvner
Guvner

@grape_crush @JamesWordsmith  

The GOP had absolutely no input whatsoever in the bill or Impact on it's final legislation. They had no Filibuster power. This one is all on the Democrats.

professorphil
professorphil

@grape_crush @JamesWordsmith

Sorry, wrong.  In the early years Social Security had a much larger number of workers supporting a relative few recipients.  Due to the aging of the baby boom generation the number of workers paying in per recipient is heading steadily lower.  The unfunded liability can be quantified through sound actuarial practices, and in fact without changes the program is now unsustainable. Oh, it will still be around in five years and probably longer, but the day of reckoning is real and it will arrive.

The political class members say they have put excess Social Security receipts into a "lockbox" but this is just an IOU, as the money has already been spent on welfare, food stamps, air traffic controllers, the military, etc. They loaned themselves the money from our excess Social Security taxes and then used it to purchased votes.  Shouldn't these same operators pass laws without all sorts of sweet deals for their cronies, and shouldn't we expect them to follow the same laws they create for us?

tpaine
tpaine

@grape_crush @JamesWordsmith one small problem.  Both Social Security and Medicare/Caid are ALREADY running in the red.  For those 30 and under, it won't be there without a major overhaul.

curt3rd
curt3rd

"Or if you must write about healthcare, write about how to make it cheaper and who is supporting those plans, and who is blocking them and why"

I was under the impression that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was suppose to make it cheaper.  Isnt that what we spent all that money on?

AndrewHvatum
AndrewHvatum

@Sibir @RamonRoman Notice how Russian propagandists go about this. They cast Libya pre-Ghaddafi as a utopia that anyone with common sense knows is fiscally impossible as not even Norway, an even wealthier oil country, achieves such subsidies. But never mind that. Then they pretend that a government which has been in power only two years should have been able to train an army and bring all armed groups under control. He claims the government is a puppet, in reality it is a multi-party democracy and Russia is butthurt Libyan leaders had the freedom to turn down purchase of expensive Russian weapons! 

How did Russia look two years after the Russian revolution? Or the US for that matter? Both could have been said to be "chaotic" countries and doubtless people like Sibir were saying back then "look how much worse things are now, and as in the past they will again be tossed aside and forgotten. 

AndrewHvatum
AndrewHvatum

@Sibir @RamonRoman Posting the same lies on many different sites does not make them true. I've seen that list of "facts" spewed out over and over. 

The one about each newborn getting $7,000 is a total and complete lie. The one about married couples getting $64,000 dollars is a total and complete lie. From a Libyan "This is a well known rumour and a common joke in Libya. Whilst it may have been passed as official legislation, I know of not a single family who has been given this grant. The backbreaking bureaucracy associated with such grants and loans make them more or less impossible to obtain." 

Medicine was also not free, only some were, but this is still the case.

Education and training abroad at cost of the state is normal across the world, nothing special. 

Lack of rent(!), so easy to disprove. There have been websites advertising houses for rent in Libya since at least the year 2000: http://www.libyankey.com/ (that one's even in English for your convenience). 

https://www.facebook.com/notes/libya-outreach-group/myths-of-the-gaddafi-regime-explained/290695180954751


I know it really burns you to see one of Russia's best (profitable) weapons customers go under. It must burn you even more to see Libya rebuilding after Gaddafi's brutal attempt to turn his country into scorched earth. You might wish the worst for Libyans, and hope they experience misery, but they will continue to forge forward and become the Norway of the Med, instead of Gaddafi's personal plaything. 

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@Sibir @RamonRoman The deed is already done by the democratrepublican way of defining democracy. But for Benghazi, Libya is already off these American freedom fighters sight. These so called democratic and freedom givers, are little by little taking away the freedoms of the American People. How ironic.

professorphil
professorphil

@grape_crush @professorphil 

It's probably not a good idea to keep responding to you because facts don't seem to matter, but here goes (in case someone else might benefit). There's a cap on the amount that can be taxed from one's income for Social Security because there is a cap on the amount that can be paid out to an individual. When the program was instituted the government told everyone that our benefits would be based on what we earn, and consequently what we (as individuals) paid into the system. Without either (1) reducing the promised benefit that everyone has been paying towards all their working lives or (2) raising taxes on some group of people, Social Security is clearly not sustainable. Those are facts, and you have already agreed with both of these points.

Regarding the second point, it really is irrelevant if money had to be borrowed initially to pay the fortunate few who paid very little into the system and received much more back.  It's a fact that until recently the amount of money paid in Social Security taxes each year was greater than the amount paid out.  It's also a fact that the political class in Washington didn't save the excess funds in any type of bank account, but instead immediately loaned those dollars to the treasury to be spent, replacing the funds with government bonds. These are just IOUs that will need to be repaid from general revenue or more borrowing.  Where am I wrong about any of these points?

The political class and those who enable them in the name of "fairness" or other nice-sounding causes always wants more. This is your go-to move to keep Social Security from going broke, and there is no end to it as "more" is never enough. Your biggest problem is that you have put your faith in people who really only want more power. They have used and will continue to hide behind ideas that appear laudable until you look carefully at what is really going on. Also, you need to be careful about the ends justifying the means when it come to the rule of law.  If you are okay with this approach for things that you believe in you will have to live with it for things that will not be to your liking.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @professorphil > ...to solve the problem of the unfunded Social Security promises made by the political class are you advocating that we cheat people out of their full promised benefit...

Nice strawman there, professor. The argument is about whether or not SSI is 'unsustainable', not what is the preferred solution for it to meet its current level of committment twenty-five years from now. 

Plus, you're choosing to ignore the 'raising the cap on taxable income' part, aren't you? Not quite honest argumentation on your part, professor.

> Regarding your point that the program initially had to borrow money, what does that have to do with anything?

Odd. That was in response to your earlier statement, "[i]n the early years Social Security had a much larger number of workers supporting a relative few recipients." If the fact that the program had to be pre-funded in order to meet its obligations in its early years 'has nothing to do with anything', then may I ask what your earlier statement has to do with anything?

professorphil
professorphil

@grape_crush @tpaine @JamesWordsmith @Guvner 

So @grape_crush, to solve the problem of the unfunded Social Security promises made by the political class are you advocating that we cheat people out of their full promised benefit when they have paid in as required all of their working lives?  If so, I should just be allowed to keep my "contributions" and hope for the best, because otherwise I'm clearly at the mercy of a government with an ever-increasing ability to reward its political cronies and punish its enemies.

We were told that Social Security was rock-solid, and that we can always rely on the government to keep its promises to us.  I guess not if your definition of "sustainable" is that we arbitrarily reduce the promised benefits to match the greatly lowered flow of cash into the program relative to the large wave of people now retiring.

Regarding your point that the program initially had to borrow money, what does that have to do with anything? We are talking here about unfunded future liabilities, and it is a fact that the number of workers per Social Security recipient is lower now than it was in the past, and it is only going lower. If this wasn't the case you wouldn't have proposed your Ponzi scheme-style solution to the problem.

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