National Debt Fueling Death Panels

August 26, 2013

us debtRemember way back in 2009 when Governor Sarah Palin fired up backers of Obamacare with this Facebook post:

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

That post won her Politifact’s 2009 “Lie Of The Year Award” and stirred progressives into a frenzy of personal attacks that would make Tuffy the Clown blush.

Palin’s now-famous death panels claim seems to have had much of the whole world laughing at one point or another, but if University of California – San Diego economics professor James Hamilton is correct, remnants of that laughter may soon be much harder to find.

Hamilton crunched the numbers and concluded that the federal government is drastically underestimating our national debt at $16.9 trillion. The true debt, says Hamilton, is almost four times that amount – a staggering $70 trillion.

According to Hamilton, the government’s tortuous route to the lower figure is paved primarily by ignoring a multitude of unfunded government liabilities including loan guarantees, deposit insurance and actions taken by the Federal Reserve. But the largest federal liabilities lie in the “fiscal stress that will come in the form of an aging population and rising medical expenditures,” says Hamilton.

Fox News reports that David Walker, a former U.S. Comptroller, has made similar claims in the past, including Social Security, Medicare and retiree pensions as additional unfunded liabilities not making it onto the government’s balance sheet liabilities.

In short, if Hamilton’s dire projections are anywhere close to being correct, America’s crushing debt and its disastrous consequences will soon force the government powers that be to take a cold, hard look at one of its top causes: medical care for the elderly.

America’s 2012 election cycle appeared to be less about a vision for the future as it was about cobbling together coalitions who ask the question: what’s in it for me? If the answer to that question is more abundantly sought by a majority willing to throw the elderly, the disabled and the unborn off the lifeboat, we have very rough waters ahead.

The post-World War II baby boomers are growing older. The cost of medical treatment is rising. The debt is swelling. The answers are lacking. And an increasingly secular America – an America that has granted legal sanction to the termination of more than 55 million unborn children — is rapidly approaching a point of yet another milestone decision of who lives and who dies.

Now is the time – not later – to ask the hard questions of our government about care for all our populations. Because no one should be judged by their ‘level of productivity in society’ once the government has reached a fiscal tipping point.

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