The Ed Show | December 10, 2012
>>> ed show." thanks for watching tonight. president obama didn't campaign on it, but it's now being floated as a real concession in the fiscal cliff talks. raising the medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. why would democrats offer it? are they really going to do it? to get a tax deal done they would do that? the idea was first brought up during the grand bargain talks of 2011 . the white house seemed open to the concept at the time.
>> it's been reported the president is willing to look at things like raising the retirement age and medicare , additional savings in medicare .
>> now a democratic aide tells the new republic the president put it on the table once before. i wouldn't be surprised if he did it once again. for progressives it's a bad idea, because medicare is a program that works. and raising the retirement age isn't going to solve the problem at all. in fact, raising the eligibility age would shift costs elsewhere. but republicans seem ready for a fight with the president.
>> he is afraid of going into a progressive meeting and say if we don't adjust the age for retirement, it means to benefits for social security and medicare , they're going to go bankrupt.
>> nancy pelosi was skeptical about the possible proposal last week.
>> first of all, show me the money . i don't even know why that is something that people think is going to produce money. what are we going to do with people between 65 and 67? what is it, a trophy that the republicans want? is that the trophy that they want in order to do what is right, to raise -- to raise the rates for the wealthiest people in our country?
>> in addition to giving republicans a victory on entitlements, progressive thinkers make the point that raising the eligibility age is really stupid way to save money because it just forces people to stop buying health care through medicare , which is relatively cheap, and start buying it through private insurance, which costs way more. as the new republic points out. the federal government would save money, yes, but only because state governments , employers, and individual seniors would pay more. how much more? estimates from the center for budget priorities and policy shows the federal government would save about $5.7 billion, while the rest of the health care system would spend $11.4 billion more to give the same benefits. actually, this is what the republicans would like because it would help them kill the program. i'm joined tonight by pulitzer prize winning journalist david cay johnston , author of the book "the fine print." david, great to have you with us tonight.
>> good to be here.
>> the numbers are so telling here. why would the democrats even consider this in conversation?
>> ed, stunning that they would do this, because it's going backwards. five years ago senator barack obama said by 2013 , we should have universal health care . this is going in the wrong direction. and it's paul ryan economics. we'll save you $1 of taxes, but you got to spend $2 somewhere else. and this is a good idea because? this is a very bad idea. and the thing to do i think people should be calling the white house , calling their congressmen and saying go the other direction. tell the democrats -- the republicans you want to lower the age of medicare to 55 and make it optional at age 55. that's the direction we should be going.
>> but if the numbers don't add up, and if you're going to spend twice as much money on health care , why would they even consider it? why was it even considered in 2011 for that matter?
>> well, because i think that president obama is not nearly as progressive or liberal as a lot of people think. he surrounded himself with people from wall street . but also we have unfortunately had the liberal and progressives in the country reacting to what the right-wing republicans want instead of promoting their own agenda.
>> as long as you're reacting, you're playing defensive ball, you're going to lose the game here. the reality is that it will save us a lot of money if we get universal health care . in fact, if we got universal health care with no out-of-pocket expenses and ran it the way the french do, it's the functional equivalent of almost eliminating the income tax . people don't realize, that's one of the two big things ruining our economy. and why is health care an entitlement that is bankrupting the country? why isn't a national security apparatus that costs more money than all the income taxes we pay for all of the things that it does to fight a war we're not going to face, why isn't that an entitlement issue we should be raising?
>> you know, i think about the american worker. having someone work a couple of years longer. this in a way, as you've said, it's a death sentence for some people who don't have office jobs. what do you think?
>> this is cruel. it contradicts the religious teachings that so many republicans are constantly throwing at us. they should go back and consult the old testament about this, which has a very simple word to describe policies that take from those with less to give to those with more. and that word is evil.
>> would this strengthen obama care in any way, shape or form as you see it the way the numbers scratch out?
>> i have a very hard time seeing that. obama care, remember, retains the insurance companies . it builds on our inefficient, high-cost system of sick care, nonsystem sick care instead of moving us toward a public service model. but raising the age here, to those people -- ed, simple fact. the data show that wealthy americans of all races, but especially white americans , their life span is expanding. poor people , white poor people , black poor people, their life expectancy is not growing, and in some cases is falling back. this is unbelievably cruel. and i can't believe we're discussion it. people should call the white house and say no, no, no.
>> david cay johnston , great to have you with us tonight on "the ed show." thank you so much.
>>> coming up, a critical issue affecting millions of workers. republicans put union-busting on the fast track in the state of michigan . even the president is weighing in. if you're an "ed show" viewer, you're not going the want to miss