Bryan Caplan  

Question for David

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Don't higher age cut-offs cause most or all of the problems associated with means-testing?  Why are you for the former, yet ambivalent on the latter?

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Philo writes:

I don't get it. David's "problems" with means-testing are: high marginal tax rates through "phase out," obscurity of the concept of "means," and unfairness. I don't see that any of these apply to bumping up age cut-offs. (Maybe unfairness, but that's a slippery concept at best. It is usually judged synchronically--it isn't usually considered unfair that we are richer and longer-lived than our ancestors--so it wouldn't be considered unfair that 65-year-olds used to be eligible for Medicare but now they aren't.)

david writes:

Likewise with Philo. How might a higher cutoff cause higher marginal tax rates? Do I get to accelerate my aging process by sheer force of will?

Jim Glass writes:

Higher age cut-offs for Medicare and the like are a regressive benefit cut, across the board.

That is, who do they hurt most? The people most in need, who will most rely on govt assistance. They suffer a lot more, take a much larger hit as a percentage of real income, than the boomers who are going to use their entitlements to subsidize the cost of sailing off on their yachts.

Means testing, to the contrary, takes benefits only out of the pockets of the latter.

That's why although a delayed benefit age seems reasonable, fair and good in theory from a distance, it ain't so easy to get past the progressive champions of Medicare et al in practice.

Of course, they don't like means testing either, but the day will come...

John Thacker writes:
That is, who do they hurt most? The people most in need, who will most rely on govt assistance.

The people most most in need get other government assistance, like Medicaid.

Ella writes:

Isn't the idea of SoSec that it is available for a retirement fund? As in ... for non-workers? People are living longer and healthier. So, um, maybe they could work until 70. (As has been pointed out, I'm sure, SoSec originally kicked in, like, 2 years after the average age of death. That's the equivalent of 86 nowadays.) An age requirement doesn't hurt anyone who works because they wouldn't receive benefits anyway, no matter how needy. Means testing does take something away from people who (ignorantly, but whatever) paid into the system expecting a return.

Also, means testing basically admits that SoSec is nothing but a generational welfare system, which is unpopular. So there's that.

I don't care. It'll go bust before my dad retires, anyway.

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