Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerry just made the best-yet reasoned defense for Social Security reform (Pride and Prejudice, Opinion, 02/01/05): the solvency of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. With a failing senior citizens’ health care system funded by the same payroll tax, income supplements for retirees on Social Security will quickly evaporate.
I would suggest the reform debate include discussion of removing the counter-productive IRS practice of taxing the income of many working seniors, then taxing again the income seniors receive in their monthly Social Security checks.
Granted, some adjustments already are made to the tax liability incurred by working seniors. But their net income would increase if there were no income tax on seniors over the age of 65 and if all medical expenses not covered by private or government insurance were tax-deductible above the line on the 1040.
Conrad F. Meier
Editor: Conrad F. Meier ([email protected]) is a senior fellow for health care policy at The Heartland Institute in Chicago. He is also the editor emeritus of Health Care News.