One proposal to fix Medicare, tax code

Buttons promoting Medicare for all ages being distributed by the California Nurses Association in Los Angeles.

Most analysts expect actual policy-making in Washington will take a break at least through the election. And so we march inexorably toward that so-called "fiscal cliff," with no deal to address future government deficits.

In this dismal atmosphere, Fortune Magazine decided to turn two veteran journalists loose on the problem. Geoff Colvin and Allan Sloan often come down on opposite sides of economic issues, but they could agree on the big, broad moves it would actually take to get our fiscal house in order.

In a recent column in the Washington Post, the two took on several economic issues in the U.S. that they believe won't be fixed, even after the 2012 presidential campaign comes to a close.

Sloan says Medicare is one area where emotion plays a role beyond economics. He proposed either restricting the amount of money spent on health care at the end of people's lives or requiring people to pay for the care themselves.

"If you want heroic care, everyone else is not going to pay for it," Sloan said. "You buy an insurance policy, you use your own money, and everybody who will be honest about this will tell you what we're proposing is completely rational, but nobody will say it in public for obvious reasons."

Sloan's solution to the tax code includes treating all income the same, getting rid of itemized deductions, and eliminating the "accured" alternative minimum tax. Listen to the complete interview for more.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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