Wall street Journal:
• The president and others describe Social Security and Medicare as "social insurance" programs rather than transfer schemes. True, the eventual beneficiaries of these programs contribute payroll taxes to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds during their working lives. But "insurance" programs are meant to pay for themselves; Social Security and Medicare cannot do so.
Wanted to comment on this last one. I guess it depends on the definition of pays for themselves. If you look at it purely from a financial perspective, medicare probably doesn't pay for itself. Social Security may or may not, depending on which set of stats you believe.
But if you look at it from a quality of life for the nation perspective, I do think that overall SS and Medicare have improved quality of life for a good percentage of americans. Its hard to quantify exactly how much, since so many other things have since those programs began, but I do believe SS and Medicare have contributed to an overall improvement.
I would love to see stricter standards and monitoring applied to those that receive disability etc.... But then, the additional monitoring and enforcement could be almost as expensive as the entitlements themselves.