Thursday, November 18, 2010

If you think you're so smart ...

Posted By on Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Here's your chance to figure out how to rescue the nation from run-away government spending by cutting programs and entitlements or raising taxes, or both.

The New York Times offers this calculator so you can see how much each spending cut or tax hike would affect the deficit.

For me, it was easy. One target of my ax was tightening up eligibility for disability, which would save $17 billion over the next 20 years. Here's how the NYT explains it:

The costs of the disability insurance program, which is administrated by the Social Security Administration, have been rising rapidly. This option would cut disability spending by 5 percent by focusing on states with the loosest standards. Supporters note that growing numbers of workers are classified as disabled, though the average job is less physically taxing. Opponents worry that injured or ill workers with few good job prospects would be harmed.

If you can do this, are you disabled?
  • If you can do this, are you disabled?

We all bring our own personal biases and experiences to these kinds of exercises, and here's mine:

While attending a high school class reunion over the summer, I was chatting with an old classmate, who was fit as a fiddle. Everyone commented on what good shape he was in. He was a member of one of the top teams in the mud volleyball tournament that weekend and had just returned from a three-on-three basketball tournament in Dallas. But he wasn't working. He was on disability and had been for years, he said. He explained that he'd been in a vehicle crash on the job years ago and his neck was hurt. Now, he said, he couldn't work because his neck bothered him.

C'mon. He can wallow in the mud, jump up and down, dribble and shoot a basketball, but he can't do some sort of job? If this specimen of fitness can slip through the system and qualify for disability, I'm ready to have restrictions on disability tightened up. How about you? What are your choices for cuts?

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