Amazing how honest politicians are when they are no longer in office!

Earlier this week we heard with great candor from former Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, expressing dismay at the Trump budget.  Why?  Cuts in the EPA?  Cuts for Big Bird and PBS?  No.  Senator Kerrey is concerned about Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to do something about our biggest budget challenge–the runaway growth of entitlements, specifically Medicare and Social Security.  Sen Kerry laments that we’re on track to increase those two programs by $80B next year.  As Kerry says, we’re robbing from the future to pay for the past.  Why does this happen?

“We geezers vote in large fractions. It is a lot easier to screw young people than older people because they don’t vote and we do,” the 73-year-old Kerrey said on “Squawk Box.”

We’re indebted to this proclamation of “the emperor has no clothes,” because the standard line is that we support these programs based on our compassion for the elderly.  Kerrey bursts that bubble by suggesting this happens primarily as the result of raw political power.  Older people vote and will hold politicians accountable.  Younger people don’t and won’t.

Kerrey was always a different kind of Democrat, a Medal of Honor winning Navy Seal who was known as a fiscal conservative, so we shouldn’t necessarily think he wouldn’t have been equally as honest if he were still in office. Yet its an unfortunate reality that this kind of Democrat is unlikely to be elected today.  But whats more unfortunate is the legacy we are collectively leaving our kids and grand-kids, because we refuse to recognize economic reality today.

28 thoughts on “Amazing how honest politicians are when they are no longer in office!”

  1. What would you propose to limit the effects of social security or Medicare?

    The way I see it there are three options. Leave it alone. Screw over those relying on those programs. Or specifically for Medicare, lower the cost of the healthcare actually needed by those beneficiaries.

    I’ve heard a lot of complaining about leaving things the way they are and I’ve seen several proposals to in some way cut benefits. I’ve yet to see a proposal to cut the actual cost of healthcare

  2. Social Security and Medicare are not the problems with the budget. Those programs do not require borrowing and have not. The ACA strengthened Medicare. If the GOP is moronic enough to repeal it without a better replacement, then Medicare could be a pressing problem in time.

    Rather, the other parts of the budget are the problems right now. They are funded with debt and have been year and after year for seemingly time immemorial.

      1. No, you should look at the DATA and NOT rely on the authority of a single person.

        That is critical thinking 101: do not rely on the authority of others, since there are always contrary authorities to be found.

        This nation does not borrow money to fund SS and Medicare. It DOES borrow money to fund the rest of the budget, including defense, transportation, commerce, energy, education, etc. This is not an opinion. It is a fact.

        Please point out the errors in my thinking.

        How about it, dean?

      2. Hello,

        A quick question: If Social Security is paying out more than it is taking in, as it has since about 2010, then does that not make SS a major budget concern? It sounds like if it came down to it, you would choose to disband many essential federal expenditures rather than look at ways to reform SS and other social programs. Is this correct?

        Also, your statement about authorities is rather perplexing. You say contrary authorities can always be found. Wouldn’t that mean that you accept that authorities exist that disagree with your assertions? If we are not to trust authorities because contrary ones will always be found, then why should we trust what you say and why do you seem to be testy because you are not being trusted as one?

      3. Mr. Adams,
        Don’t you think you are being too clever by half? The issue of medicare and social security has almost nothing to do with any individual year (especially currently), but the looming insolvency of the program as the baby boomers continue to retire–something long known by anyone that considers demographic changes. The latest social security/medicare trustees report says this in the 2nd paragraph of the summary:

        “Both Social Security and Medicare face long-term financing shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing. Lawmakers have a broad continuum of policy options that would close or reduce the long-term financing shortfall of both programs. The Trustees recommend that lawmakers take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls, so that a broader range of solutions can be considered and more time will be available to phase in changes while giving the public adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits.”

        Now tell me why you insist that we should join you in burying our head in the sand? What alternative facts drive you to come to a different conclusion? What reputable source concurs with your assessment that our biggest problem is discretionary spending, not the growth of mandatory entitlements?

  3. So interesting what they will say when they don’t have the restrictions of being in office. “We’re robbing from the future to pay for the past.” That quote is so accurate of this time because we just keep digging ourselves further into debt. And because younger people have a lower voter turnout, we are not holding the politicians accountable for their actions. Very thought-provoking article!

  4. It’s the age-old problem. Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. Just recently my 79 year-old brother-in-law was in an auto accident he was in the hospital on life support for just short of a year. I’m not sure what the cost was but I guess it was well over a million dollars. So we
    taxpayers paid a million dollars for a man to lay in bed barely able to move or talk for a year. What did that game him? How did that affect his family? Why do we do this?

  5. I find it interesting that he chose to speak in euphemisms “rob from the future to pay for the past.” More accurately and certainly more motivating would have been “rob from the young to subsidize the old.”

    SS and Medicare only pay for themselves if you believe in different pots of money. I view all money as fungible and all of it comes out of my back pocket (along with all the other schmucks who pay net taxes). There is a fallacy that SS will disappear when it goes bankrupt, not true. It will only be able to pay some percentage of its present value. The problem is liberals have been telling people, no matter how well-off, that they have been contributing to their SS with “contributions.” So everyone considers themselves “invested” and will refuse to take no for an answer when their time comes to collect. If SS benefits were reduced today by some percentage, I’ve heard 20-25%, it could become self sustaining again. Or, raise the age of eligibility to something like 72 and again it becomes sustainable. The beauty of using age is you restore the ratio of payers to payees.

    Many young people are getting it, they are refusing to buy overpriced health insurance on the exchanges. They of course are being demonized because they don’t wish to subsidize the older populations. But still a small step of sanity on their part. I salute them. Now they just need to organize to build a correlation to AARP and VOTE!!!

    1. Do you know any young people who refuse to buy insurance on the exchanges?

      I’d say younger people are more likely to have benefits from some other source, such as their job, which is why the marketplace isn’t selling very many policies to them.

      If they don’t then they’re unlikely to have a very high income, so they would get subsidized if they bought through the exchanges.

      1. The evidence is in the exchanges. The lack of interest by young “invincible s” is why the exchanges are collapsing. Yes, I do know “young” people who are passing on the opportunity to subsidize the older population (though they don’t view it that way). They own businesses like granite and tile shops and would rather pay their own way. The text of the ACA does not allow the IRS to levy, lein or use criminal penalties so the only way to collect is if they overpay. Guess what? They don’t overpay.

        To be honest, we are ripping young people off. Unfortunately for them they are looking to someone like Bernie Sanders for a solution.

      2. Mr. Vader–
        Very simple. Young people know that the expected value of the benefits of the insurance is less than the costs, such that it makes financial sense to pay the penalty–which was phased in over the last few years.

      3. Jeff, thanks for the response. I’m actually not disputing that logic. It does make perfect sense to me. I have a very skewed sample but among the young people I know they either have insurance through their parents or through a job. So I was asking if Mike personally knew any examples or if it’s just the general talk in the media.

  6. I think people just don’t know how to or care about saving in general. Just like we’ve been talking about in Macro, saving affects the future of a country. Americans don’t save their money for retirement. They don’t truely live within their means because they expect entitlements to be there in the future. Young people are starting off their lives with a load of college debt. Of course they’re not going to think of saving for retirement when they have debts to pay off first…

    1. “Americans don’t save their money for retirement. They don’t truely live within their means because they expect entitlements to be there in the future.”

      Please understand that Cedarville is not the real world. The average family who send their children to Cedarville earn over $100,000 a year. That is far above the average.

      There are people who were not lucky to be born in the right family, or with the unique set of skills required in the 2017 job market, or with the right genes for long-term physical and/or mental health, who work very hard and still cannot save.

      If the ACA is repealed, or strongly modified, some of them may die. Yes, die.

      Should we do nothing? Would Jesus do nothing, as many so-called Christians today would?

      1. “Please understand that Cedarville is not the real world.”

        What is your point, Mr. Adams? I don’t recall anyone saying Cedarville was the real world. Student debt in general, though, is. Do you deny that?

        “If the ACA is repealed, or strongly modified, some of them may die. Yes, die.”

        How do you quantify this? How many people do you think the ACA has saved from death? If the ACA is modified, why do you think they will die? What provision if repealed or changed would set a person on the path to the grave? Do you claim that any healthcare bill that is different from ACA is automatically inferior?

        And what would Jesus do? I don’t know. I don’t think you can know either. Jesus was concerned with saving souls for eternity. If he were on Earth right now, he would be preaching the gospel of salvation, not engaging in political activism.

      2. I would be careful about inferring what Jesus would do. I’m pretty sure Jesus would not get together with his apostles and take by force which is the way “liberals” work today. When I feel charitable, it comes out of my back pocket. When liberals want to give, amazingly it still comes out of my back pocket. They just use a gun to do it!

        The idea that people like me are heartless because we feel we have a better way to do things like this is offensive. Health insurance today is not insurance. It is a health maintenance plan. Insurance by definition is to protect against unseen/catastrophic (a thing providing protection against a possible eventuality). So as a consequence, it is expensive because insurance companies will always have to pay. Catastrophic health insurance would be cheap by comparison because the risk of paying goes down significantly.

        When you can buy a catastrophic plan from Amazon, the price would be very low and then young people will probably buy. The cost of insuring would be far more balanced to the value of protection/peace of mind. No different then car insurance. Most of us don’t buy maintenance plans for our cars because it is ridiculously expensive (Last time I bought a new car they wanted $4500 for the complete maintenance plan). But, most of us buy accident insurance, because it is ridiculously cheap compared to the cost of repair.

  7. The most ironic thing about this is that it’s not just one group of people paying for the older group of people because I think that is a sustainable, albeit as simplified as possible, idea that I do not believe is wrong. What I think is ironic is that we, as the younger group, are supposed to be contributing to SS while more and more of us are going on other government subsidized programs. Essentially, we’re asking the government to tax itself at a higher rate than ever before, and that is not sustainable or practical.

  8. I agree with Kerrey. Older people vote and make sure the politician does what he says he will. Whereas, I know a lot of younger people didn’t vote in this past election. It seems like more younger people don’t care and won’t do anything to try to help improve the world.

  9. I think this article brings up a great point that we often tend to overlook or have just come to terms with how politicians lie while they are in office. I think it really is a shame that the opinions he is voicing would not allow him to get into office. As a society we do overlook the reality of economics and water everything so we don’t step on any toes, which is really unfortunate. I think as generations go by it is only going to become worse.

  10. I think by this point we’ve well established what needs to be done, yet we’re still looking for the happy union of a government willing to make the hard call and a generation that will take it on the chin. I’m simply flattered that the older generation has volunteered us youngsters for the second job. That being said, the evidence is starting to show that we may be up for that task ( I can’t imagine that there will be any calls for rejoicing over this fact, but to quote Sinatra, “That’s Life.” Seeing as we’ve been selected for this cause, I guess we are left with little choice for now but to accept our commission and boldly go where no one wanted to go before.

  11. You comment on how “what’s more unfortunate is the legacy we are collectively leaving our kids and grand-kids because we refuse to recognize economic reality today.” My question is: how long can our country keep this up? If my generation does the same thing, not saving and relying on retirement payments to suffice, will that be able to sustain itself? Surely the program will collapse on itself at some point. Very interesting topic/article to think about.

  12. This brings to mind the article we read in the class about politicians and their willingness to lie, and how we as a nation just accept it as part of the game. Its scary to me that we as a nation continue to allow this, and that its just the “normal” thing.

  13. Interesting how politicians can still be very effective after their term years end by bringing awareness to issues they may not have been keen to address while in office. It seems as though these issues may be the ones we should focus on most, considering that former senators may have limited political reasons for raising them, but rather are looking to tell the honest truth.

  14. “Now tell me why you insist that we should join you in burying our head in the sand? What alternative facts drive you to come to a different conclusion? What reputable source concurs with your assessment that our biggest problem is discretionary spending, not the growth of mandatory entitlements?”

    I am not sure you are getting it. Let me reiterate, clearly.

    We are borrowing money NOW and have been borrowing money for many decades to fund those other programs. Do you not consider that a problem?

    I find it bizarre, if not dishonest, that you seem to worry about FUTURE problems (Obamacare actually strengthened Medicare, btw) while ignoring PRESENT day problems.

    Let’s face it; the main reason you are so concerned about SS and Medicare is because those programs are social programs that help out the elderly, poor and disabled. You don’t say much of anything against defense, even though DJT’s budget would jack up those costs far, far above the rate of inflation. It is NOT because of debt, because SS and Medicare are not funded with debt.

    If you were so concerned about debt,you would be critical of the PRESENT problems, not FUTURE ones.

    1. Mr. Adams,
      You often speak of the inability to know what’s in other’s minds, and yet here you are certain that I rail against the national debt because its a social program. Is it possible, even slightly conceivable, that perhaps my comments addressed social security and medicare because those were the two programs that Sen Kerrey addressed? Some people actually respond to the comments that people make, not what they assume others are making. You might want to try it sometime. :-)

      However, I join your concern over all areas of spending excess; I would love to reduce the “discretionary” spending too. However much you are willing to cut discretionary spending, I suspect I would be willing to cut far more.

  15. @ Mike Canino
    “When I feel charitable, it comes out of my back pocket. When liberals want to give, amazingly it still comes out of my back pocket.”

    If you were famous, I’d put this line in for our quote for the day. I was smiling when I read it!

    1. Well, if you want a famous person… Here is an excerpt from an article I came across the other day. It includes a quote from Davy Crockett…

      “Congress wanted to appropriate $100,000 to the widow of a distinguished naval officer. Crockett took to the House floor and delivered his famous speech, relevant as ever:

      “We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to so appropriate a dollar of the public money. … I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

      Crockett was the only member of Congress who donated personally to the widow, while the members of Congress who pretended to be so caring and compassionate closed their wallets.”

Comments are closed.