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Can America achieve fiscal solvency in 50 years?

We need to get all Government employees into 401k programs and private insurance. Seek early retirement for those on pensions and Government health insurance. In the long run this change alone would save one hundred billion dollars/year.

You cannot isolate Obamacare from the rest of government; you must include all the players.

Anyone who shows up at an emergency room without insurance will be put in a data base; insurance agents will then contact them with a goal of getting them insured. If they refuse to get insurance, they will be penalized under Obamacare.

Put $10 billion into finding cures for the autism spectrum immediately.

Enact tort reform especially for OBGYN's; parents think they are entitled to "perfect" babies; they are not.

Have top software experts use Watson to “smell” tax cheats by writing computer code to insure everyone's tax return is audited every year. This will bring billions of dollars/year into the treasury. Reward agents who successfully spot exceptional tax payer abuse by giving them 1 % of the monies they recover.

Restrict food stamps to only healthy foods i.e. no processed foods and set aside aisles where all foods are allowed and aisles where all foods are prohibited. Punish those who trade or sell food stamps and grocers who sell prohibited foods. Provide free clinics on how to cook with acceptable ingredients.

Provide wellness bonuses. Your health should be measured thoroughly every five years including colonoscopies, stress tests, yearly physicals, mammograms, etc. If you and your doctor set goals for BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., and, after 5 years you achieve these goals, you will get a rebate on your health insurance for five years.

On a sliding scale increase withholding for Social Security and Medicare to make them solvent for at least 50 years.

Charge a blue ribbon panel of members of the private sector, especially economists, with the goal of how much of big government can be privatized.

  • Dec 3 2013: Answer to Joshua.
    The 401k plan is the retirement arrangement for the benefit of the employees, in which a fixed percentage of the employee's salary was deducted each month by the employers and deposited (invested) into an account management in an investment co prearranged by the employer, and the employer also match the employee's contribution with ratio of 50-50 or sometimes even more generous ratio of 75% to 25%. The account balance would be "vested" (means the employee will keep the money as his, but can't withdraw any money until he retires or leaves the co.) During the period of "accumulation", the employee also can change the ratio of allocation in the mix of stock. bond or fixed rate deposit. This is the most important set-up to the employees' benefit as compared with the Social Security Plan because of the control by the employee himself instead by the government. So, the my suggestion is to almost parallel arrangement by the 401k set-up to be applied to the Social Security management policy. In this way you get the advantage of the "employee" has the full vested interest in the accumulated amount he is entitled to, but also has the benefit of less expensive fees if the investment is done by himself. The government, serving as the custodian, only has the power of custodian but no powers to expend any portion of the money as the current arrangement. The government, just as the employers, serves as the overseer to guard against the investment co. to scam or use fraudulent charges to the employees or retirees, for their benefit, when and if they are managing the investment accounts by themselves.
    This , and the health care insurance are definitely the two most important contributors in the future debt crisis. That's why we have to find a solution to them besides the other items you mentioned.
    • Dec 3 2013: I see no way out of the health insurance crisis. Americans are fat, lazy (mea culpa) and have unhealthy diets and life styles; nothing healthcare can do can save that----this life style is enormously unhealthy. When you add unfavorable demographics i.e. aging baby boomers, it adds up to a healthcare situation where we will spend over 20% of our income on healthcare. That competes with education, SNAP, and every other social program. Healthcare is going to drive down the standard of living of every American as it eats away at our discretionary income, at least, until the Baby Boomers die off and/or every American has an epiphany where we start getting more exercise and eating better.

      I would like to see an investment option both in 401k and Social Security where the individual didn't get hit with the enormous fees that fund managers charge----it should be a simple computer program that could take a standard risk package for everyone at any age so that the individual could pick their own portfolio without the need of a fund manager.

      When you read the outrageous amounts that fund managers get to manage 401k programs it is obscene, especially when monkeys can pick stocks as well as most financial advisers.
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    Dec 2 2013: Yes, it could be done, but, and no offense, not so much by the methods you listed.
    Consider, our current debt is about a fifth of all the world's liquidity. Although our tax base relatively low, our
    spending is relatively wasteful. So, we look to abridge our Ponzi based benefits programs, reduce/eliminate programs that are not specifically directed by the constitution as a beginning
    • Dec 2 2013: A classic example of the entitlement problem is that Medicare is popular as if this has anything to do with fiscal solvency. Many seniors think they have "earned" their Medicare payments. What they don't realize is that the average "boomer" couple and their parents will take out of Medicare something like $180,000-$330,000 more than they put into Medicare.

      Obviously Medicare is popular! You are being given the equivalent of a free house!

      Health is wealth---without health we can never have wealth; thus our health care system which is bent on fixing what's wrong instead of on focusing what is wrong in the first place e.g. obesity-related diets, is a losing battle.

      Appealing to the Constitution is an argument that is not going to fly. Most people have never read the Constitution or understand what it means.
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    Dec 2 2013: Yes but it will not make very many happy. Federal spending lists Medicare/medicaid, social security, defense/wars, income security, net interest on debits, and federal pensions as the largest budget items. Since social security and federal pensions are funds that are contributed to by the members themselves these are not as great of concern ... however, other than the military a 401K plan would be a great savings. The administration dips into both of these funds regularly to offset the pet project of the day ... if they were set aside and no administrative invasion allowed they would be self sufficient.

    The absolute worst management possible is the US Government ... if the administration of medicare and medicaid were contracted out great savings would be realized.

    In short the reduction of federal involvement in all phases except those given powers under the Constitution billions of dollars a day would be saved.

    Tie congressional and administrative salaries to the national debit ... last years budget being the source. Over budget percentage is the same amount you will lose in salary ... under budget that percentage is your raise. base salary is 100,000. All perks and incentives will be reviewed. all travel will be restricted to business. Returning to your state every fourth day is not business, your place of employment is DC ... want to travel pay for it ... you work for me and I have to pay for my travel. All laws apply to all citizens there is no elite ruling class (politicians). No more using AF One for campaigning ... that is a party function and your party will pay for travel, lodging, and security. The Presidents wife / family are not a elected officials and their travels on AF One will be in his company only ... you want a vacation pay for it WE the citizens do.

    Place national mandates on the presidential election ballot ...

    This could go on and on .... but you get the idea .. hold them responsible.

    Be well. Bob.
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    Nov 30 2013: Fiscal solvency will come from
    (1). Cutting military/security expenditure by 75% (it's all money essentially wasted by the fear of non-existent enemies);
    (2). Introducing no-claims bonuses for medical insurance, thereby encouraging people to take more responsibility to look after their health;
    (3). Ban illness-causing processed food (about 90% of food will disappear off supermarket shelves) (in my last trip to the USA 15 years ago I went hungry because I could not find any healthy food to buy - maybe it's improved since then)
    (4). Encourage alternative-medicine practices to grow;
    (5). Raise tax on petrol/diesel to European levels;
    (6). Stop wasting money on researching disease, and start research in why healthy people are healthy;
    (7). Make sure your suggestion to find tax-cheats starts at the very top, and only moves down the income scale when those at the top have been "corrected"
    (8). Don't waste your $10 billion on researching a cure for autism, just cut the crazy level of vaccination;
    (9). Educate pupils to become creative flexible adults who can think for themselves - they will take entrepreneurship to new heights;
    (10). Introduce the idea of "public service" rather than "private gain" into american culture (not sure how)

    I reckon even just No:5 above should do it.
    • Dec 1 2013: Wow! You given this a lot of thought. My mom was always in favor of taxing gasoline the way it was in Europe to promote more efficient usage. In America its all about making gasoline cheaper!

      Where we disagree (the only place where we disagree significantly) is that the link between autism and vaccination has been pretty convincingly been disproven---althought there is much passion on the part of those who still maintain there is a link. I tend to believe it is just as likely to be due to the other things you mention like various environmental toxins introduced through the food chain. Simply declaring it a problem with vaccinations and moving on is not a solution to the problem; it must be studied objectively from a variety of standpoints; otherwise we are staring at $200-$400 billion/year problem.

      We have a massive problem with education in America that is not going to be an easy fix. In many subcultures there is no premium placed on education; we are a nation of functional illiterates who know how to use the latest AP on their i-phone, find Face Book or video games fascinating, but don't know who the first president was.

      We "mainstream" disruptive students who detract from the experience and learning curve of others. Something is clearly wrong with our education when so many students are entering college deficient in knowledge, and, even worse, leaving college deficient in knowledge or skills. We need to introduce an aggressive program of physical education to get kids moving more---maybe have kids have a dance contest every morning before classes start!

      Teaching the concept of public service sounds like a nice idea---just not altogether consistent with the free-market system; you can try to convince large numbers of Americans to agree with you, but many are from the me-first generation and look at public service as the province of the rich. How many poor Congressmen/women are there?
    • Dec 2 2013: I have a few more disagreement with your list:
      I agree with your suggestions (1), (5), (7) and (9), however the government expenditure AND FUNCTIONS NEEDED TO BE CUT THROUGHOUT MANY AREAS. For example, the education systems should be better run by the district entities, with the supervision by the states. The interference or MANDATES by the Federal Government, even if not harmful, I seriously doubt that the "benefit" is worth the money we pay by our taxes.
      In other words, it is just like all other government function, part of the money is wasted just as other government inefficiencies.
      Suggestion (4) should emphasize wellness life habit instead of alternative medicine.
      Suggestion (6) is incomplete, there are lot of diseases of due to old age or chronic diseases which need research for proper treatment and/or prevention, which is extremely important in the control of health care expenditure either by the individuals or the government insurance.
      Suggestion (2) is a little problematic. If we have a normal health care insurance system works fine, the healthy people will pay less than unhealthy people., so no bonus system is necessary. The ObamaCare system not only doesn't PAY BONUSES, it actually PENALiZE them instead!
      AS for the real culprit for the future insolvency, I would question the 2 most important projected contributors; the Social Security and the Medicare. For the former, it really should be run similar to the 401k for the individual retirement funding program and be invested in commercial assets. (As a matter of fact, the original rule was that every worker, regardless of the wage scale should have a basic "pension fund" when s/he retires. That's why the wage to be 'taxed' has an upper limit unrelated to the individual income level. it is really a private life insurance, only the insured amount is limited to the basic need for the individual instead of decided by the insured,) The Medicare program does need to switch to the free market competition.
      • Dec 2 2013: To repeat another post:

        If we privatize Social Security, the fear of the American public is that the collapse of the stock market will impact their Social Security check. What if the Treasury puts a floor under the stock market?

        The stock market, far more than real estate, has been a better financial bet for over 100 years.

        Suppose that Social Security recipients can trade or sell up to 10% of their holdings/year and never lose more than 10%/year of that stock? If your stock drops from a 24 month high of $100/share to $50/share and you want to withdraw money as your Social Security check, the Treasury agrees to buy the stock for $90/share. There is no need to rush to sell when the stock market tanks preventing stampedes.

        Standard policy for the Treasury will be to start selling stock when it reaches 15% above the purchase price. They always buy low and sell high. The Treasury will use the profit to provide free financial advice to Social Security recipients and manage their portfolio free of charge so that the typical Social Security recipient loses no money to financial advisers or fund managers. This would isolate Social Security, unlike 401k programs, from fund managers and their related fees.

        A key test would be to reconstruct the Great Recession, apply these rules to realistic behavior of Social Security recipients who had invested in the stock market their entire lives and needed to withdraw monies from 2008-2011.

        As I indicated above Medicare is wildly insolvent and clearly a Ponzi scheme.
        • Dec 2 2013: Richard, Thanks for your reply. Ten years ago, I have written an editorial comment on a scheme to change the "borrowing" of SS revenue by the Fed Gov from the SS trust fund with very little or no interest, realistically, even the borrowed principal could be expected to repaid. Have you heard heard the rumor that the gov is planing to take the private corporate 401k plans to be "kept" by the gov as the custodial agent as well. My suggestion was that, ideally, the SS tax should still be administered by the trust fund, but the investment will be handled by contract agent such as several commercial investment/insurance companies, just like the private 401k pension plans. Nowadays, some of the large investments companies are so large and very well computerized that they could easily handle the investment and reporting of such large scale investment for the SS client. For example, such companies as Fidelity, Vanguard and Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association, which are already capable of handling the individual investment accounts of millions of participants. The system can be set up with a few choices just like the commercial 401k plans with several mixes of stocks and bonds and fixed rate assets These plans usually make investment quarterly reports directly to the individual participants as well as the corporations who handles the company 401k programs. In this case, the "company" will be the SS Trust Fund Authority. In other words, the SS individualized funds need not, or more efficiently, to be managed by the individuals at all. This arrangement also can reduce the management fees (as compared with each individual account by the owner himself) charged by the investment companies by the government agencies by the large size and the orderly withdrawal of the investment accounts.
          My personal experience (throughout several recession years) with my 401k investment has been far superior than the SS payment I received from the government.
      • Dec 2 2013: Hi Bart,

        This will respond to both posts. What is scarey when you give "custodial" status to the Federal Government is the inherent problem that they will be tempted to "borrow" from it.

        What I don't like about 401k programs is the huge fees over the lifetime of the plan that financial advisors charge to manage your money. I'd like to see an automatic option offered by the Federal Government where you specify risk tolerance and the Feds simply pick stocks to meet that risk through a more or less random process. Overall so much of the 401k benefits are lost through financial managers that the average employee would get at least 3-4 more years of benefits if those fees were cut substantially.

        I still maintain psychologically to get people to invest rather than pay into Social Security is that there has to be some mechanism to put a floor under the market. If someone had invested in their Social Security for 30 years and had to start withdrawing in 2008, they would take a big hit over 2008-2010.
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        Dec 2 2013: Hi Bart,
        I rattled off the list of 10 items without thinking too much about it - so I'm happy to stand corrected. Being a European I don't really understand the details of Obamacare, and I don't know what "401K" means.
        But I do remember reading 4 or 5 years ago that just putting up diesel/petrol prices to European levels would solve USA debt as it was at the time of writing.
        For me, the next biggest contributor is people taking more responsibility for their own health. Not everyone is a fitness-freak of course, but simple things like diet, exercise and stress reduction are within reach of the majority. There are never any guarantees but as a broad spectrum of effort it would reduce demand on expensive healthcare, and social welfare in relation to ability to work.
  • Nov 30 2013: I like the plan. I would also remove the stop on social security payment and include bonuses. I would also make congress go with a 401k and not the current pensions for congress. The question is how are you going to get it past congress and the unions.
    • Nov 30 2013: What is below the radar is that it is not the pensions that are the killers, it is the health care. Estimates are that healthcare for Government workers is going to cost something like $5.7 trillion. In New York State alone there is an estimate that unfunded health care amounts to $250 billion or about $8,000 per individual.
      • Nov 30 2013: Agree , the health care plans given to government workers are very expensive. Again how can we change them?
        • Nov 30 2013: Have Government employees go to the exchanges, at least for new employees.
  • Dec 1 2013: Not as long as we have Republicans or Democrats.
    There is a lesson to be learned by "driving the money changers away from the temple"