- - Sunday, July 30, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In this era of “fake news,” remorseless facts remain. The Medicare trustees have warned for more than a decade now of a coming negative cash flow and a “trust fund” depleted in 2029. Its report released earlier this month has been misleadingly characterized as positive. Only in Washington doublespeak can long-term shortfalls of $49 trillion be considered welcome. Medicare’s chasm can barely be comprehended (it is nearly triple the U.S. GDP). While America has made peace with chronic deficits for several generations now, the bill is quickly coming due.

With precious few exceptions, our national leaders respond with studied indifference. Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, who admirably tiptoed up to the plate of responsibility, have seen themselves depicted as people who would push their own grandmothers over a cliff. In this dire setting, the political left’s approach, led prominently by Sen. Bernie Sanders, has been “Medicare for all” — a plan that would at least quadruple the 55 million covered in an already unsustainable program. This approach would have health care swallow virtually all of the government and economy.

The repeal of Obamacare takes urgent priority, as it exacerbates the problem of health-care costs. But even this difficult step is necessary but insufficient to begin curbing socialized medicine that is far too deeply embedded in too much of the system. It will require the sustained effort of our leaders and more wisdom and fortitude than has heretofore been exhibited. Our fiscal predicament cannot be fixed with minor tinkering or gimmicks. America cannot go the way of Illinois.

GREGORY C. MCCARTHY

Burke, Va.

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