Taking Stock: Mortgage reductions

Dear Mr. Berko:
After listening to a No More Mortgage ad on Bloomberg News, I responded and got the marketing material, but it sounded too good to be true when the salesman insisted I could pay off my l9-year mortgage in three years with my current income. But I was concerned about a comment he made that the administration is thinking about reducing my Social Security income by 20 percent. He also claimed I might be eliminated from Medicare because I still work full time under my employer’s group plan. I’m 70 and need to work. I used to get 5.25 percent on my CDs, and now get 1 percent, and my wife and I don’t want to lower our standard of living. Are these reductions possible? This really worries me and my wife. And how is it possible that both programs could be in such bad financial shape? If the administration can fix GM, why can’t it fix Social Security and Medicare?
D.E., Kankakee, Ill.

Dear D.E.:
Sirius Radio broadcasts CNN, FOX, Bloomberg and CNBC, and that No More Mortgage blather carried on these networks is proof of the dumbing down of America. It’s a scam, like so many of the financial commercials on Sirius, whose four business channels attract an audience of fools, dipsomaniacs and dupable listeners with room-temperature IQs.

These claims are part of the salesman’s pitch to make his product important to you. But there is talk of reducing current SS payouts and Medicare benefits to folks with incomes above $250,000. A semi-retired colleague who is familiar with the subcommittee shenanigans commented several weeks ago: “It’s not my fault that I worked for 41 years, saved and invested so the income from dividends pension and part-time employment exceed $250,000.”

I agree it’s not his fault. But don’t be concerned; your income is not high enough to be in that rarified atmosphere.

However, the current under-50 generation knows that SS and Medicare won’t be as generous to them as it is to us. They’re flying on a wing and a prayer, and few have put serious thought to their retirement years. These folks may be in the soup lines because in 20 years, the future government largess will be a ghost of the past. No worries for you. You’re good till you’re 102, and I’ll give you a written guarantee.

You asked how this can happen. If SS and Medicare were important to your congressman, both would be solvent. It’s simple as that. Your congressman doesn’t give a flying freckle about you, SS or Medicare. It’s more important for him to approve money for new missiles, ethanol subsidies, loans to Somalia, AIDS funding, crop guarantees, infrastructure improvements in Afghanistan, funding the U.N., the arts, ad infinitum. These programs are payback to constituents whose lobbyists have huge slop buckets with hundreds of millions of dollars to pass around. The senior lobby barely has enough money to buy breakfast for a congressman at Denny’s.

Meanwhile, many members of Congress strut in public with the arrogance and attitude of high-ranking Nazi generals but in bespoke suits, hair by Formica and custom shoes.

There are 535 of these people in Congress (including Charlie Rangel), and if they really cared enough to fix SS and Medicare, you’d better believe they have the power to do it.

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775 or e-mail him at mjberko@yahoo.com. Visit Creators Syndicate Web site at www.creators.com.
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