U.S. debt default looms as talks stall on deficit reduction

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I find it tragic that we’re talking about cutting Medicare and Social Security in this environment, when we, first of all, don’t really need a budget-balancing plan right now. The budget-balancing plan we need in the future is really related to the rise in healthcare costs. Healthcare costs will drive up Medicare most. And I read in the newspapers again today analyses about long-term budget deficits ignoring the fact that it’s basically all Medicare and Medicaid driven by rising healthcare costs in general. The problem is very clear: we’ve got to reform the healthcare system. That is America’s major domestic problem….

The idea of taking it out on people over 65, Medicare, or very poor people getting Medicaid, or Social Security, which in many minds is inadequate to begin with—I mean, there’s some nonsense around that we have a generous public retirement plan—it’s very disturbing. America has lost its way….I’ve always been in favor of Medicare for all. People love Medicare. You know, one of the other ironies in this is that Medicare is excoriated by the Republicans and the right wing. And you ask people whether they want to lose their Medicare, no way. Medicare could work very well. And a nation—Medicare for all could work very well. A Medicare operation that began to negotiate on budget—on drug costs and on the kinds of services they pay for in a rational way could make this healthcare system work. We’ve got to deal with that, and we’re simply not. I don’t think Obamacare is enough. Not bad, but not enough….

There’s never any discussion of the level to which U.S. military wars abroad have created so much a part of the huge deficit, and now the Republicans are complaining about it. But 10 years of war has to be paid for, but no one wants to talk about that expenditure…. We just can’t go on fighting wars as if it’s costless to us, and we seem to think it is.