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More Social Security Payouts & Maple Syrup Bill Covered in Latest Taxpayer’s Tab
As the federal government narrowly escaped a shutdown and the President delivers a speech on his long-term fiscal plans, NTU Foundation has been scoring the bills introduced by your elected officials. Some bills would greatly increase the spending of tax dollars while others would scale back spending and reduce the budget. It is our intention to present both kinds of bills to inform taxpayers.
The most expensive bill scored in the past week would increase payments to Americans who turned 65 between 1979 and 1988. Because of earlier reforms to the Social Security entitlement program, this age group, called “Notch Babies,” apparently received up to 55 percent less in payments than those entering the system, before and after. The measure would allow seniors either to accept a lump payment of $5,000 over four years or to accept a modified benefit payment plan over ten years. Check out the history and the costs of the Notch Fairness Act in Issue 12 of the Taxpayer’s Tab.
Bills covered in the latest Taxpayer’s Tab includes:
Join NTUF on Twitter! We broadcast our latest work and highlight the spending agendas of the legislators representing you in Washington DC. Not a Twitterer? Sign up for the Tab so you get the most out of our research. Like what you see? Support NTUF and ride the wave of transparency.2 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
You can learn more about possible entitlement reform options by watching videos from NTUF's reform panel on our YouTube channel.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Comments on Alice Rivlin’s Entitlement Reform Testimony
The Brookings Institution’s Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin prepared testimony for the House Committee on the Budget -- one of the centers for entitlement reform and debate. She presented ways to reform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid while reducing the federal deficit. The views and options she expressed were the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Debt Reduction (Domenici-Rivlin). Below, I highlight a few points that particularly struck me.
Medicare: As a member of the President’s Debt Commission, she worked with Congressman Paul Ryan (WI-1) to produce the Rivlin-Ryan Plan. Touted by panelists at NTUF’s Moving Forward on Entitlements event, Medicare would be remade into a voucher program. After 2020, new enrollees would receive fixed health care-related contributions at a growth rate of GDP plus one percent. Much like Congressman Ryan’s Roadmap, the plan would greatly increase Medicare’s longevity.
“The Affordable Care Act includes important provisions aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing cost growth: authorizing Medicare to contract with accountable care organizations on the basis of shared savings and value-based payments to providers; pilot projects to try out other payment reforms; ... . However, the impact and timing of these efforts is still uncertain.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, greatly increased the bureaucratic weight on the health care system. To help offset some of the pressure, accountable care organizations -- “a provider organization that takes on responsibility for meeting the health needs of a defined population” a.k.a. HMOs under government control -- are said to save money while increasing health care efficiency. However, this is a very optimistic outlook. To assume a new level of control of care, charged with ensuring quality and lower cost curves, is to institutionalize quality. Ask Medicaid how that turned out.
Pilot programs under PPACA may not have the results many proponents of Obamacare would hope. In improving quality and prices through such programs, many of the factors leading to success are oft times difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in other cities, states, or regions. NCPA’s John Goodman has explored pilot programs and their seemingly random success rates. I am not branding pilot programs as useless but they ought to be used in targeted instances with realistic measures of success. The general provisions used in PPACA open a door for pilot programs to become legacy government efforts, not to improve health care.
I agree with many of the reforms Rivlin proposed for Medicaid. Many of the problems occur because the give and take of “dual eligibilities” -- low-income earners receiving both Medicare and Medicaid -- and the shared financing system between state and federal governments. Many states are given larger shares per capita than others because they have learned to game the system. Rivlin goes on to say, “states could be given more leeway to design their own programs, either through block grants… or through waivers under the existing program.” By cutting out the federal bureaucracy, states would get medical care funds to those who need it more quickly.
Rivlin’s stance on Social Security reform is a mixed bag. She calls for a “change in the calculation of annual cost-of-living adjustments for benefits to more accurately reflect inflation” and to “slightly reduce the growth in benefits… for approximately the top 25 percent of beneficiaries” (otherwise known as means testing). Both measures would bring more accurate cost controls, while maintaining benefits for which the program was originally intended.
However, her last point concerned me the most: “The Task Force plan would cover newly hired state and local government workers under the Social Security system, beginning in 2020, to increase the universality of the program.” Certain government employees can opt out of the system in favor of their own group pension plans, which often are more successful than Social Security. By bringing more people into the system, a short-term cash infusion would result but, if no systemic reform occurs, they would end up in precarious situations similar to current beneficiaries.2 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Virginia Beach Taxpayers to Discuss "Boomergeddon"
Have an interest in fiscal issues and need something to do this Saturday? The Virginia Beach Taxpayer Alliance is hosting James Bacon, author of Boomergeddon. The meeting is at the Marian Manor Retirement Center's Terrace Room. Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. and is $3 per person. A meeting follows at 9:00 a.m. For additional details, contact Robert Dean (robertkdean @ cox.net).1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
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Reflections on CPAC
Today is the third and final day of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives and libertarians in the nation. After three days of staffing a well-visited booth, meeting with dedicated activists, and listening to dynamic speakers, I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation, but also to what the future holds for the conservative movement.
This year’s CPAC had the highest number of attendees (11,000) in the history of the conference. CPAC speakers ranged from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee Chair, to Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a potential presidential candidate who gave, in my view, an outstanding keynote address, which you can read here. Also, CPAC 2011 featured a number of new participating organizations that focus on both activism and policy related to social, economic, and political issues at the federal, state, and local levels.
While attending CPAC, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of discussions about important tax and fiscal policy issues facing the United States. NTUF hosted a discussion about entitlement reform that featured experts such as Rep. Devin Nunes, Maya MacGuineas, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Steven Moore, and Dan Mitchell. The bottom line of their presentation was that we need to start tackling the problem of runaway entitlement spending before it’s too late.
But budget reform should not be restricted to social programs. CPAC also featured a panel on how the nation can reduce defense spending to a more manageable level without jeopardizing readiness. As a former military aide to a fiscally conservative Member of Congress, I was pleased to hear all of the views presented and the many ideas for maintaining an affordable defense posture. The passion the attendees displayed at the panels, and in conversations with me at the NTU table, was striking. It bodes well for conservatives if these activists carry their views home and remain outspoken and active in the political process.
For the last several weeks, there has been a lot of talk in the media about differences in the conservative movement over certain policies and suggestions that these differences spell certain doom the conservative movement. After three days of observing conservatives of all stripes from across the country, I can unequivocally say that reports of destructive differences among conservatives are greatly exaggerated. In fact, I would argue that the conservative movement has never been stronger and ready to bring real solutions to the many serious problems facing the nation.4 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
A Conversation You Can't Afford to Miss
Need something to do in Washington today? Why not join us for a discussion on entitlement reform? It's a conversation that you can't afford to miss, so come be a part of it.
Panel on Entitlement Reform, SOTU Analysis Covered in Latest Tab
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation released the latest information on the President’s State of the Union speech this morning. Covered on CNBC, US News & World Report, and Investors Business Daily, the study authored by Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady also appeared at the top of the Drudge Report. A part of the Foundation’s SOTU coverage, Brady examined the speech line-by-line to give taxpayers a cost of the President’s proposed agenda. Here are a few highlights:
NTUF also announced the panelists who will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week in Washington DC:
The Taxpayer’s Tab included four newly scored bills in the 112th Congress:
Tune into NTU's State of the Union Coverage tonight
Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, the National Taxpayers Union's crack government affairs and policy analysis teams will provide special online coverage of the President’s State of the Union Address, and we want you to be there and be a part of the discussion. We will be breaking down the President's proposals and what they will mean for taxpayers. Details on how you can join the conversation are below.
We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!
We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!