Bill Thomas, the Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was the guest on Meet the Press this weekend. No doubt, Thomas was the guest this week because he called the President's Social Security privatization plans a "dead horse."
While Tim Russert repeatedly tried to get Thomas to talk about the "crisis" in Social Security, Thomas repeatedly talked about the costs of chronic and long term care. In context, he appeared to me to be discussing all three main sources of financing long term care, Medicare, Medicaid, and personal payments. (Based on the premise men and blacks live shorter lives and thus receive fewer benefits, Thomas allso talked about some other issues that are truly unsettling, varying Social Security benefits by gender and race.)
The President may be focused on Social Security. Yet Medicare's financial condition is far worse than Social Security. Thomas was not only trying to re-direct the issue from one public program to another, he was trying to re-frame the issue to something broader, the costs of living for the aging. I'll save the speculation about what Thomas is up to until later, but he's correct that healthcare expenditures are a more immediate financial threat than the health of the Social Security Trust Fund.