Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened his unofficial run for the GOP Presidential nomination with speeches in New Hampshire. It is well accepted that Governor Christie needed to do something especially noteworthy to gain the public’s attention. And he did.
Most everyone recognizes that Medicare, Medicaid, and the overall Federal Budget are spending more than they are receiving in tax revenues. Social Security while technically solvent is projected to produce a huge deficit in the years ahead. Christie chose to speak about these entitlement programs and proposed some steps to reign in their future costs. Was that bold? Was that wise?
The ideas of means testing Social Security or increasing the age when one qualifies for entitlement benefits is not new but for a politician seriously running for a major office, it is extremely noteworthy.
It will take a few weeks to know whether Christie’s proposals have any measurable impact upon his candidacy. In the meantime, however, it is worthwhile to recognize how unfair and unbalanced Christie’s proposals are.
To be clear, I do not mean that “means” testing is unfair or that increasing the age of the onset of benefits is out of hand a bad idea.
What I mean is that these measure done by themselves transfer the burden of balancing the US budget to many of those who can least afford the costs, and in effect shield the very wealthy from paying for the services that enable them to accumulate so much wealth.
Further, similar changes to Medicare simply display ignorance of the fundamental underlying healthcare problem, US healthcare costs are the highest in the world (two times) and deliver no better outcomes.
If Governor Christie wants to be America’s President and if he interprets that to be all Americans’ President, he will need to broaden his domestic economic views. Tax reform where loop holes and exemptions are eliminated, increased marginal rates will apply to the highest income levels, Federal expenditure reductions will include both Defense and Entitlements and are proportionally, and a determination that Government services exist for the benefits they provide citizens and not as an employment vehicle are worthy additions.
With Governor Christie’s words, the GOP candidates all sighed in relief that someone else had said what they wanted to say.
I wonder whether the other candidate “get it” and will add to these proposals cuts in Defense, tax reform and an overall attack on healthcare costs?