Re: “10 steps that could get the country out of the financial mess” (Robert J. Samuelson column, 8-16).
Samuelson suggests cuts to Social Security and Medicare in order to balance the budget. Apparently, he is unaware of how these two programs function. Both Social Security and Medicare are funded by separate taxes on income and have their own funds separate from the general fund.
Both of these funds are, in fact, currently running a surplus. Cutting Social Security and Medicare spending to reduce the deficit in the general fund would be as effective as trying to close a budget hole in the City of Seattle by cutting spending by the City of Tacoma.
Cuts to these two programs would actually have a negative impact on the economy. If younger retirees have their Social Security and Medicare benefits taken away, they will try to re-enter the workforce, which will lead to an increase in unemployment and end up actually increasing government spending, as well as hurting those who are already unemployed by making it harder to get a job.