To me, the most disturbing information in this Paul Krugman post is the rising gap in life expectancy between the top and bottom halves of the wage distribution. For those born in 1912, the life expectancy gap between the poorest and the wealthiest was two years. For those born in 1941, the difference is six years.
In an allegedly egalitarian society, the two-year gap was bad enough. But six years tells me we’re reverting to the conditions found in a Dickens novel.
In an allegedly egalitarian society, in an allegedly “pro life” society, data like this should be the canary in the coal mine telling us we’re doing something very wrong. I’m not holding my breath waiting for most Americans to notice. I doubt many of them will hear about it.
Krugman tells us that the Ryan budget not only eliminates the Medicare program and replaces it with an entirely different program of the same name; it also raises the age of eligibility for The Program That Is Not Medicare, which is not something I had heard before. Jonathan Cohn explains that under the Ryan plan, beginning in 2020 the eligibility age will go up by two months every year. And this will cause another kind of gap:
Remember, the House Republican budget would also repeal the Affordable Care Act. That would leave insurance companies free to charge higher premiums, restrict benefits, or deny coverage altogether to individual applicants who have pre-existing conditions. Given the relatively high incidence of conditions like hypertension, arthritis, and vision problems among older Americans, it’s safe to assume many seniors would have trouble finding affordable coverage–if, indeed, they could find coverage at all.
To be sure, pre-existing conditions wouldn’t affect older Americans who could get coverage from large employers, either as current workers or younger retirees. That’s how most “younger seniors” get insurance now. But the addition of so many 65- and 66-year-olds to employer insurance plans would raise benefits costs for businesses and, eventually, their workers. In the late 1990s, when politicians last talked seriously about raising the Medicare eligibility, Hewitt’s Frank McArdle ran the numbers for the Kaiser Family Foundation and determined that
Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 would mean that plan costs for a 65-year-old retiree could be two to four times higher (depending on plan design) for each year of coverage without Medicare.
For a typical large company with a predominately younger workforce, the employer’s actuarial cost for lifetime retiree health benefits would rise about 16 percent (18 percent for a large employer with an older workforce).
Again, a Republican comes up with a plan that is allegedly pro-business that would actually hurt business. I wrote a couple of days ago that most rightie politicians don’t actually understand financial or economic issues, they just think they do. Just like they think they understand war and the military, even if they’ve never served in uniform.
Cohn and Krugman have raised some extremely difficult and important issues that we as a society should be facing. Instead, we get this reaction from Little Lulu, who completely ignores the issues and just blurts that Krugman allegedly wrote something in favor of raising the Social Security eligibility age back in 1996, which makes him a flip-flopping charlatan.
Useful idiots like Lulu exist to be sure we can’t have intelligent discussions about anything. It’s what the Galatian Overlords have decreed.
Anyway, Lulu is quoting a book review Krugman wrote 16 years ago, and I can’t tell from the quote Lulu excerpts whether Krugman is expressing his own opinion or encapsulating the opinions expressed in the book he is reviewing. And, naturally, there is no link to the review. Either way, a lot has changed in sixteen years. Krugman’s consciousness about many things seems to have gone up quite a bit. Lulu’s, alas, has not.