Washington DC: At a pre-meeting prior to the Blair House meeting, President Obama and Republican Congressional leaders have tentatively agreed to a strategy that brings down health care costs in the USA.
The proposed 2011 budget (spending) of $3.8 trillion has a deficit of $1.3 trillion. The cost drivers are Medicare/Medicaid costs of $750 billion, Social Security costs of $700 billion, Defense/Homeland Security costs of $800 billion, other mandatory costs of $700 billion and other discretionary costs of $600 billion. Additionally, there is the interest on the national debt costs of $200 billion, plus a few other spending stray cats and dogs.
The focus of the meeting was on reducing health care costs, specifically by eliminating the Medicare/Medicaid cost of $750 billion, sometimes referred to as an entitlement. C-SPAN observers thought this approach was pretty draconian and were hastily kicked out of the conference room, but the doors were left open.
There are currently 100 million people utilizing Medicare/Medicaid. Each will be given a Dell laptop computer, interfacing with "Ask the Doctor" and "Web MD" for a second opinion, medical do it yourself step-by-step surgical software, a kit of basic medications and surgical instruments, and cell phones to call their children and grand children's doctors in case of a real emergency.
The cost of furnishing this equipment is estimated at $100 billion (excluding federal government GSA discounts) which is chump change by Congressional standards. Thus $650 billion will be saved on Medical expenses. The conferees agreed to cut another $650 billion from the budget by trimming other discretionary funded programs and still have the IRS collect Medicare/Medicaid withholding taxes as part of Social Security taxes. Smiles abounded all around the conference table, since $1.3 trillion had been eliminated from the 2011 budget which will be the first balanced one in as long as anybody in Washington DC could remember!
The full Congress (both houses) must approve/disprove the bipartisan meeting recommendations by an up or down vote. If a successful vote occurs, no filibusters, another meeting is scheduled in Maui Hi next month to eliminate that other pesky entitlement, Social Security funding ($700 billion)!
The money saved by not providing Social Security would go to pay down the national debt in 21 years and all the retired people would be mandated to go back to work, thus stimulating job growth without spending a dime. At a press conference after the meeting it was stressed that "there would be no middle class tax increases." No mention was made at the press conference that Social Security taxes will still be collected, as Congress is still Congress!