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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 03, 2013

 
Let's hope Ed Rendell doesn't see Django Unchained. God only knows what lesson he'll take.

by digby

  From Bold Progressives:


ED RENDELL: Give the President credit, he said he would consider chained CPI, he said back in 2011 that he would raise the Medicare age, with carveouts. [...] Those are things he’s going to have to deliver. [...] He has to lead. And boy I’d love the whole Congress, this new Congress and the President, they should all go see a screening of Lincoln together, because Abraham Lincoln led on the 13th amendment when everybody on both sides told him he was crazy.

Yes, that's what he said. He compared raising the medicare age and cutting social security to freeing the slaves.

Perhaps what was more interesting was what followed. Steve Kornacki actually challenged his conventional wisdom drivel and Rendell revealed he is completely clueless. He falls back on the braindead life expectancy trope, gets it wrong and then admits that we should have Medicare for all. Evidently he thinks it makes sense to cut the program even though we should be expanding it. This is what passes for "elder statesmen" these days. (The tip off that he's talking nonsense was the fact that SE Cupp said that he was making sense to her.)

Here's the reality about life expectancy:

General life expectancy, or life expectancy at birth, is mostly affected by early death. Whenever a child dies, it skews life expectancy from birth way down. Anything that increases infant mortality, or care that ends a potentially devastating childhood illness (think vaccines), will increase general life expectancy a lot. Therefore, many of the gains in overall life expectancy have nothing to do with how long an elderly person lives, but how well we do in treating childhood illnesses...
What we really should care about in this case is not life expectancy at birth, but life expectancy at age 65. In other words, if you make it to 65, how long will you be on Medicare? That's when things get tricky.
In 1970, if you made it to 65 and qualified for Medicare, you could expect to live for about 15 years on the program. So a lot of people were making use of these programs, for a lot of years. In 1987, you could expect about 17 years on Medicare; by 2007, almost 19 years.
Yes, life expectancy is going up. But not nearly as fast for those on Medicare as people think. An additional problem is that it's not going up equally. A new study just released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation looks at changes in life expectancy from 1987-2007 by county. Here's the most troubling part of it (emphasis mine):
Change in life expectancy is so uneven that within some states there is now a decade difference between the counties with the longest lives and those with the shortest. States such as Arizona, Florida, Virginia and Georgia have seen counties leap forward more than five years from 1987 to 2007 while nearby counties stagnate or even lose years of life expectancy.
In Arizona, Yuma County's average life expectancy for men increased 8.5 years, nearly twice the national average, while neighboring La Paz County lost a full year of life expectancy, the steepest drop nationwide. Nationally, life expectancy increased 4.3 years for men and 2.4 years for women between 1987 and 2007.
It shouldn't come as a surprise it may be that poorer people are not making nearly the gains in life expectancy that wealthier people are. If you look at the maps from those studies, this seems to be true. And it's born out by another study that appeared in Social Security Bulletin in 2007. 
This is the life expectancy of a covered male Social Security worker who reached age 65 in 1977-2007. The blue line is the top 50% of earners; the red line is the bottom 50%. While earners in the top half have seen an increase of their life expectancy at 65 rise about five years over these three decades, the bottom half saw their life expectancy at 65 rise barely a year. 

This is what you should think about whenever someone talks about increasing the eligibility age for Medicare or Social Security. Not everyone's life expectancy is increasing. Those who need the benefits the most would be the ones who stand to lose the biggest percentage of them by raising the eligibility age. Asking them to pay more out-of pocket doesn't seem like a fair, nor workable, solution.

In other words, Ed Rendell doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.  He's bandying about jargon like "carve outs" which applies to the (equally hideous) Chained-CPI argument and applying it Medicare where it makes no sense at all, since you can't "carve out" 50% of workers and have it make any sense.  Clearly his "Fix the Debt" pals for got to give him his proper talking points about how Obamacare is going to cover everyone. (Well, except in those states where the Republican governors are rejecting the Medicaid expansion and who-knows-what will happen with the exchanges.)

This is a perfect example of the idiotic misinformation these deficit scolds hurl around all the time.  For the most part I think they are clever propagandists.  But in Rendell's case, after watching that clip, I think it's obvious that he simply doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.  And yet he's all over TV explaining why we just have cut "entitlements."

Grrr.


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