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Peterson-Pew Proposal Lets Lawmakers Off the Hook

November 18, 2010

The Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan (about which we blogged here) has overshadowed a report that the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform released last week. Although the Bowles-Simpson plan relies far too much on program cuts and too little on revenue increases, at least it proposes specific policy changes to reduce deficits. The Peterson-Pew Commission report, in contrast, lets lawmakers off the hook by blaming the budget process for much of the nation’s long-term fiscal problem.

How Deep Are Rep. Ryan’s Social Security Cuts?

October 20, 2010

Thanks to a new analysis by Social Security’s chief actuary of several possible changes to the program — which the House Subcommittee on Social Security released today — we can calculate the size of the Social Security benefit reductions that Rep. Paul Ryan’s much-discussed budget plan would generate (I analyzed the Ryan plan as a whole earlier this year. Here’s my new analysis of the plan’s Social Security component.)

Social Security Sense and Nonsense

October 5, 2010

In a new paper and podcast I’ve tried to correct some of the misinformation that critics of Social Security have been spreading about the program.

New Deficit-Reduction Plan Would Jeopardize Health Reform

October 4, 2010

Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution and Maya MacGuineas of the New America Foundation offered a plan last week to reduce federal deficits and push down debt held by the public to 60 percent of gross domestic product by 2020. The plan explicitly recognizes that it would be unrealistic to hold federal revenues and outlays to the averages of recent decades, a topic on which we’ve recently written. We commend Galston and MacGuineas for proposing reasonably specific tax increases and spending cuts rather than relying largely on mechanical formulas that avoid making the hard choices.

Unspinning the Latest Actuaries’ Report on Health Spending

September 13, 2010

Since last October, the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued several projections of national health spending under various versions of health reform legislation, the most recent of which came out last Thursday. Each time, health-reform critics have contended that the projections show that health reform won’t slow the growth of health care costs. And each time (see here, here, and here), we have explained why the critics are wrong. So here we go again.

Comparing the High-Income Tax Cuts and the Social Security Shortfall

September 2, 2010

The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle has written another post about our comparison over the next 75 years of the Social Security shortfall and the cost of the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. The gist of Ms. McArdle’s argument seems to be that we’re not computing the present value of these two policies in the same way. That’s simply incorrect.

Time for Hard Choices — Not Hypocrisy

August 31, 2010

Kathy Ruffing and I recently noted that the cost of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers roughly equals the amount of Social Security’s 75-year shortfall. Today at The Atlantic, Megan McArdle questions both our estimate and our analysis. Here’s why our comparison makes sense.

Rep. Ryan’s Reverse-Robin-Hood Budget Plan

August 18, 2010

Rep. Paul Ryan and his budget plan are getting a lot of respectful attention in the press. (See here and here.) New York Times columnist Matt Bai suggests Ryan’s plan might represent “the starting point in what could be a serious negotiation about entitlements and spending.” But a careful look at the plan shows it to be a radical blueprint to shift massive resources from the broad majority of Americans to the very wealthy, while leaving the budget on an unsustainable course for decades.

Critics’ Misleading Attack on “Misleading” Medicare Report

August 16, 2010

Sunday’s New York Times op-ed by Stanford Ross and David Walker (“Misled on Medicare”) charges that the latest Medicare trustees’ report on the program’s finances is misleading.  In fact, it’s Messrs. Ross and Walker who are telling only part of...

What to Look for in the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports

August 4, 2010

The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds will release their annual reports tomorrow. Although these reports generally come out by April 15, the trustees often miss that deadline. This year, the trustees delayed the reports to give the actuaries at the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services time to incorporate the effects of the Affordable Care Act (the recently enacted health reform legislation).

Here are a few things to anticipate and keep in mind about the reports to come tomorrow:

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