Another Unintended Consequence

Here’s a pending “revenue saving” failure in which both parties are on track to be complicit.  President Barack Obama’s latest budget guess includes a measure purported to

improve the financial stability of Medicare by reducing taxpayer subsidies for retirees who can afford to pay a bigger share of costs. Congressional Republicans agree with the president on this one, making it highly likely the idea will become law if there’s a budget deal this year. … Obama’s budget would change Medicare’s upper-income premiums in several ways.  First, it would raise the monthly amounts for those currently paying.  Then, the plan would create five new income brackets to squeeze more revenue from the top tiers of retirees.

We’ll leave aside the dishonesty of pulling the rug out from under current retirees by changing the rules on them after they’re irrevocably committed to a retirement expense and income stream based on the original rules.  Instead, the unintended consequence, illustrated by the example of Sheila Pugach:

[S]he’s being penalized for prudence, dinged for saving diligently.

It was the government, she says, that pushed her into a higher income bracket where she’d have to pay additional Medicare premiums.

IRS rules require people age 70-and-a-half and older to make regular minimum withdrawals from tax-deferred retirement nest eggs like 401(k)s.  That was enough to nudge her over Medicare’s line.

“We were good soldiers when we were young,” said Pugach….  “I was afraid of not having money for retirement, and I put in as much as I could.”

And now she gets to pay even more money to Uncle Sugar as her reward for her honoring her duty to herself and to her family.  Were this nonsense current law, Pugach would pay roughly $168/mo for outpatient coverage under Medicare Part B instead of her present $147/mo—a jump of more than $250 per year.

There are a lot of alternative uses for that kind of money for a person living on a fixed income and little to no job prospect.  Oh, wait—Pugach is an “upper income” retiree.  Well, we know Obama’s reaction to that, don’t we?

I do think at a certain point you’ve saved enough money.

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