- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The next president and Congress will inherit an ailing budget with a dire long-term prognosis. Alarmist calls on federal spending (“Federal budget deficit to balloon,” Web, Monday; “Into the wild blue yonder,” Plugged in, Monday) — in the face of threats that extend to every personal checkbook or corporate bottom line — put a distracted focus on symptoms when we need to treat a larger condition.

The single biggest threat to our financial well-being is the skyrocketing growth of health care costs. The same costs that drive Medicare and Medicaid spending also strain the budgets of employers and individual households. The growth in entitlements is driven by the crisis in health care. Let’s keep our eyes on the real problem.

As for finding solutions to Social Security’s long-term solvency, the sooner we act, the less drastic they have to be. We all know what the options are. What has been missing is the political courage to make difficult decisions so that any solution is fair for every generation. AARP and our 40 million members understand the need for sacrifice, and we are willing to work on reform and propose reasonable options.

The Washington Times’ story is correct that the leaders sworn into office in January will face tremendous challenges to help Americans through short-term and long-term economic problems. The bottom line, though, is that we cannot afford to keep a broken health-care system.

THOMAS C. NELSON

AARP Chief Operating Officer

Washington

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