[V]irtually all of [Bush's] improvements [to Social Security] would be aimed at the bottom one-third of American wage earners. The remaining two-thirds would see their future Social Security benefits curtailed, a reduction that they'd be encouraged to make up by saving and investing of their own.
"What you're going to see is an effort to scale back middle-class entitlements that many people do not need and to become more focused on the antipoverty aspects of these programs," said Michael Tanner, an expert on Social Security at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank that advocates small government.
"We're going to tell non-poor Americans that they are going to have to save more on their own and not depend on a transfer from government," he said.
I do see something wrong with including Medicare, however - basically turning Medicare into Medicaid for old people (and you see what's happening to Medicaid):
Tanner and others predicted that Bush would pursue similar targeted tactics if he tackled Medicare's overall costs, which many policy analysts described as a looming crisis that, in contrast with Social Security, needed immediate attention.
"Bush and the Republican leadership are committed to seeing universal programs like Social Security and Medicare turned into means-tested welfare programs," said Robert J. Blendon, a health policy professor at Harvard.
If you are going to subject people to payroll taxes all their lives -- freelancers like me have even paid in double -- they ought to get something back for it (otherwise it's merely a progressive tax, which is bound to come under attack as such by conservatives), and what they ought to get is universal health insurance for old age. As old people continue to work and be productive much longer, an investment in their health will actually contribute to the economy. As Michael Reynolds at The Mighty Middle says:
Here's the thing: I don't expect to retire. I expect to work till I get very sick or fall over dead. I think an awful lot of people in my generation feel the same way. I like what I do. I like working. Sorry, but the whole quit-work-take-up-golf model means nothing to me. I don't want to play golf.
I am too ignorant of economics, and specifically health-care economics, to know what other solutions might be proposed for soaring Medicare costs, particularly as we baby boomers start to fall apart. (What am I saying? We've already started.) It is no doubt naïve to think that preventive medicine could play a much larger role. And it's common knowledge that many old people are overmedicated with prescription drugs. Of course, that benefits the big pharmaceutical companies, so cutting costs on one end would cut profits on the other . . . what's a poor capitalist to do.
I'd appreciate it if someone would tell me where to go . . . that is, to educate myself on this subject.