Benghazi isn’t the only thing that Hillary Clinton is lying about. On the campaign trail, she talks about how Republicans want to cut benefits for the elderly and poor. “I fully support Social Security and the most important fight we’re going to have is defending it against continuing Republican efforts to privatize it,” she said at the CNN Democrat debate.
Jeb Bush’s new proposal for Medicare and Social Security reform reveals how ridiculous such statements are.
(Full disclosure: I am an advisor to Jeb Bush’s campaign, but the opinions in this post are mine and do not necessarily correspond to those of former Florida governor Bush.)
According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Jeb’s plan would save roughly $285 billion over the next ten years and roughly $2.7 trillion over twenty years. This would be a massive boon to the federal budget and jumpstart economic growth well beyond its paltry 2%.
In an election cycle that has focused little on policy reforms, Jeb’s plan is a refreshing reminder that some candidates are actually running to govern and solve our nation’s biggest problems.
That’s not the only refreshing part. Many Republicans have run on how to save money on these twin programs. What’s surprising, and what should concern Democrats, is how Jeb proposes to do it.
He manages to rein in entitlement spending – a major Republican objective – while protecting and expanding benefits for the most vulnerable, stopping Democrat arguments in their tracks.
Instead of cutting benefits for poor retirees, Jeb proposes raising them . Currently, Social Security benefits are valued at 80 percent of the federal poverty level. This means that a senior solely relying on Social Security will live in poverty, despite paying into the system during their working years. This is wrong. Jeb proposes raising the minimum benefit to 125 percent of the poverty line so that no senior has to live impoverished.
Instead of favoring the rich, he doubles down on means testing. Under his plan, wealthier workers receive fewer benefits from Social Security and Medicare, resulting in $250 billion in savings over twenty years, according to some estimates. For example, using current law thresholds, a senior making $150,000 receives a 50 percent subsidy from the government for Medicare. Under Jeb’s plan, the subsidy would drop to 35%. The subsidy levels for middle class families earning under $85,000 would stay the same.
He cuts taxes for seniors who want or need to work beyond retirement age and makes it easier for them to save. Currently, the government reduces Social Security benefits for seniors making more than $15,720. Jeb would eliminate that rule so that seniors who work do not see their benefits reduced. Additionally, he proposes eliminating the 6.2% payroll tax for seniors, which reduces the size of their paychecks with negligible increase to their Social Security benefits.
And while Democrats talk a lot about how to increase benefits for current seniors, they talk less about making sure benefits are there for future seniors, who ironically make up a significant portion of the Democrat electorate. Today’s 50-year olds are in trouble. Without reform, seniors’ Medicare hospital benefits will be cut across the board by 15% in 2030. Social Security benefits will be cut by more than 20% when the trust fund runs dry. Today’s 30 and 20 year olds can expect to get even less, despite paying into the system (and Democratic proposals to pay more into the system).
Jeb makes sure that the entitlement programs will exist when today’s young people turn old, by putting forward widely agreed upon, bipartisan reforms, such as increasing age limits to reflect longevity, giving seniors choice in their healthcare, and changing the inflation calculation.
Such reforms must occur. Entitlements plus interest will crowd out all other types of federal spending by 2030. This is bad news for national security, education, infrastructure, and all other federal spending. It’s particularly bad news for Democrats who run on creating new programs and will have limited flexibility to hand out more goodies to their electorate. Jeb shows them how to make room in the federal budget for more than entitlements.
Jeb’s plan for Social Security and Medicare helps to balance the budget, reduce taxes, and jumpstart economic growth, while protecting the poor, the elderly, and other domestic priorities. Meanwhile, Democrat candidates are content to let the status quo result in benefit cuts and a less prosperous future for the next generation.
Hillary has said only that she’ll defend these programs from Republican reforms. Which means, thanks to Jeb, she will be defending slow economic growth, keeping seniors impoverished, more benefits for the rich, taxes on working class seniors, and massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
We will see what independent voters think about that.
This article was written by Abby McCloskey from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.