Information & Referral
By Alan M. Schlein
Put the president’s health care law aside, at least for now. Temporarily forget that the nation just went through the government shutdown ordeal. Get ready for the next crisis. It’s already on its way.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have until December 13 to reach an agreement to fix the nation’s budget woes. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis are coordinating a 29-member panel to reach consensus by that time.
In short, the outlines of the problem remain the same as they have for the past years – any agreement will require a difficult trade-off. Republicans must give in on higher tax revenues for wealthy individuals and corporations in exchange for Democrats giving in on reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The facts are daunting – ten years from now, the U.S. government will be spending $4 on entitlements for every dollar it spends on all other domestic functions, such as scientific research and law enforcement, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data. Yet the federal debt would still be about 70 percent of gross domestic product and poised to climb. In a nutshell, Americans getting older and the costs to keep them healthy will overwhelm all other financial considerations if some changes in direction are not made.
Medicare currently accounts for 16 percent of the federal budget, according to the CBO. That currently covers about 50 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries. But that enrollment figure is expected to hit 80 million by 2030, which makes Medicare a key part of the budget deliberations.
By Laverne Bardy
My husband has something in common with New Jersey ex-governor Jim McGreevey. Not only is he, too, from New Jersey, but it wasn’t long ago that he, too, was in the closet.
After over two decades of marriage followed by an equal number of blissful years as a divorcee, I had no interest in committing to another relationship – and certainly not marriage. There were countless reasons I felt this way but high on my list was the fact that there are few pleasures I enjoy more than sleeping alone – sprawled out in my king size bed, without bumping into or being disturbed by another human. I love falling asleep on cool sheets that haven’t been warmed by someone else’s body heat.
That joy is only surpassed by the pleasure of waking up alone. I do not want to talk or hear sounds of any kind, including radio, TV and music, for at least half an hour after I’m out of bed.