In his first post for the New York Times economics blog, Bruce Bartlett challenges President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to do the unthinkable: stick to the course the president and the Congress have already committed to do, implement the Sustainable Growth Rate compensation levels, and not apply a doc fix to kick the can down the road.
If you’re not inclined to read his entire post, here’s a quick summary:
- Paying the unfunded or underfunded benefits of Social Security and Medicare will require a 61% increase in income taxes. Forever.
- That number may be conservative.
- Don’t implement a doc fix.
Note that this approach won’t solve Medicare’s problems or, more precisely, it will only solve Medicare’s problems to the extent that those problems are caused by physician reimbursements and that only to the extent that physicians aren’t able to recover the lost income by prescribing additional procedures (I’ve posted on this very subject not long ago). It will just ensure that it conforms to current assumptions.
If we had some ham we could make a ham and cheese sandwich if we had some cheese.