Is the Budget fight a feint?

This is only my opinion, but I am interested in Dopers correcting/agreeing/dissing my idea. :slight_smile:

This opinion refers to the current US battle over “shuting down the government”.

I have heard, and for the purposes of this opinion I accept, that in 20 years (or so) Medicare will consume the entire federal budget-absent significant changes in the growth rate of medical care in the US. There would be nothing left for any other Governmental function. Regardless of the details, Medicare is the driving force behind the US deficit. The cost of the rest of the Government, even Social Security, are minor components.

People in the Government know this, I remember the first discussions of this back in the late 80s, and the question is how to deal with the problem.

To define the problem again: the cost of health care for everyone. Medicare is paid by the federal Government, but the costs weigh on everyone young and old.

There are two possible solutions (leave aside the probability that any given plan will actually work-no one knows. Either one is an act of faith.):

  1. reduce the cost via government regulation, increased technology and increased competition-lets call it plan D.
  2. reduce the cost via increased competition, increased technology, and increased government regulation-lets call it plan R.

Getting either D or R enacted requires getting by Grandma and the other party.

So, how does one do that? She is a formidable force in US politics.
Economics? Tea Party rallys? Bi-partisan commissions? Reasoned debate?

How about distraction and feint? Lets start this big noisy argument in the front of the room to attract everyone’s attention. While that is going on, enact (or keep) either D or R-or if necessary a combination of the two.

So, my question isn’t really whether this is going on-it clearly is- but do you think the politicians in Washington are smart enough to be doing this consciously? Or is this like evolution, lots of things are tried until something works.

So, random chance or the hand of politicians guiding the future?

Does Medicare cost more than, say, the military budget?

Why can’t we also raise taxes, the only way you seem to be aware of to reduce deficit is to reduce cost, the other option is to raise taxes.

In the future, the Medicare fight is going to eventually boil down to two options:
[LIST=A]
[li]Do nothing and survive another election year.[/li][li]Increase the minimum age of eligibility and face the roving mob of angry seniors.[/li][/LIST]
Option A has been working for Congress so far. What’s their incentive pick Option B?

According to this site:
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy12/index.html

The President’s 2012 budget, I know that won’t be enacted but it gives us a relative view, says:
“Security” 815B of which 553B goes to Defense
Medicare 446B
Medicaid 213B

so as of now, Medicare is not larger than DoD, which isn’t what I expected. But Medicare is growing much faster than DoD.

I believe that A and B are exactly what has happened in the past. The past 20 years.
I don’t know what the incentive is to pick option B. Except that every year some politician tries to fix the problem and the problem will get bigger every year. Eventually it will crowd out what politicians really like to do. And everyone knows that. So perhaps that is the incentive to pick B.

However, we are seeing attempts to change Medicare right now. By politicians. What I am asking is whether this surprising event is a random consequence of other forces, similar to evolution selecting for a new trait, or is the present budget fight part of a concious plan to enact a fix to Medicare while everyone is fixated on a feint- the budget arguments. Changes of this magnitude can’t be done in secret, so the only way to get them past in the face of strong opposition is to distract the opposition with something even more urgent and immediate. Whichever it is, it looks like we have, for the first time, a real chance to enact changes to Medicare. Whether either plan is a good one, or whether either plan will be successful in fixing the problem is not part of my question. The fact that anything at all might happen is a huge change. See A above.