In an interview with PBS' Gwen Ifill on Tuesday, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman tore into the GOP's fiscal cliff proposal and launched a spirited defense of President Barack Obama.
Krugman explained that Obamacare has done more to bring down entitlement costs than anything Republicans have proposed. "In Washington, that is considered not serious because he's not actually taking benefits away from people who need them. It's a really weird thing. It's only considered serious if you inflict pain on vulnerable people," he said, referring to the recent GOP proposal to raise the Medicare eligibility age.
That proposal is "cruel" and would save a "trivial" amount of money. He also said that reducing the inflation adjustment for Social Security benefits, as Republicans have proposed, would inflict "some serious hardship for very little money."
Krugman hammered home the jarring point that the Republican proposal only "sounds serious because it hurts vulnerable people."
He is not the only economist noting that raising the Medicare eligibility age wouldn't significantly reduce entitlement costs. Austin Frakt, a health care economist at Boston University, wrote in a blog post Wednesday that "the savings are too small" and "it does nothing, absolutely nothing, to increase the efficiency of Medicare or the health system."
Qualifying for Medicare at age 65 is a critical lifeline for many seniors; 16.3 percent of Americans age 45 to 64 lacked health insurance last year, according to the Census Bureau. The government's adjustment of Social Security benefits for inflation also helps prevent the elderly from finding essentials to be more unaffordable as they age, according to the Associated Press.
(Hat tip: The Raw Story.)