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Do you ever get the feeling that the country has either checked out as a whole, or has been brought back to life by Dr. Frankenstein using Abby Normal’s brain?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his steps to save the Social Security program for the entire country the other day in New Hampshire, and the frightening part is that he’s either just laughing his ample arse off because he knows that too many Americans have no idea what has already happened to them, or he too is truly Abby Normal.

Mr. Normal’s plan – that is, Gov. Chris Christie’s plan – is to “reduce Social Security benefits for retired seniors earning more than $80,000 and eliminating the benefit entirely for individuals making $200,000 and up in other income, along with raising the retirement age to 69 from 67”.

Here is the punchline, folks: IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!

Anyone following the rules of Medicare for the past decade now knows three absolutes in life, and they are:

  • You have to have health coverage.
  • In retirement, this means you have to have Medicare.
  • Medicare is based on how much income you have.
  • Even funnier is the fact that while the bellicose gourmand Christie was on stage espousing how the rich should pay more, the Senate (without any fanfare) passed a wonderful bill dubbed the “Doc Fix”, which the House of Representatives had already started.

    And the punchline? This bill, which is to help generate funds to reimburse physicians who see Medicare recipients, is laced with penalties that are passed on to unsuspecting middle class Americans who have saved too much for their own retirement.

    Yup, Congress just changed the Income Related Monthly Adjusted Amount (IRMAA), or better known as “means testing”, to standards that will penalize retirees even more for having “too much income”.

    So anyone who happens to be earning too much income in retirement (with income being practically everything that you saved with the exception of Life Insurance, certain Annuities and Roth accounts, along with a few other obscure investment vehicles and the fillings in your teeth), will quickly see their Medicare Part B and D premiums skyrocket.

    And the icing that was on the cake before Gov. Christie ate it all off with a big spoon while your back was turned? These increases in Medicare Part B and D premiums are automatically deducted from any Social Security benefit you believe you are getting. What’s even funnier is that this obscure rule has been on the books since 2003 thanks to the Medicare Modernization Act, and was put into force back in 2007.

    Think it’s no big deal? Think again. The average retiree should expect to see their own Social Security benefit be decreased by as much as 28 percent within the first 5 years of retirement, and growing as high as 67 percent if they live until age 90. For those that are now deemed to be “rich” by the standards already set by our own government, they should expect those figures to be at least 30 percent to 50 percent higher.

    So, again, this idea has already been put into motion, and apparently not one person in New Hampshire, nor anyone in Chris Christie’s camp (or even Chris Christie himself!) understands what is already being done to them.

    The last bit of insanity (or the “cherry on top”, had it not already been delicately plucked and consumed by Gov. Christie) that should make anyone with the vaguest concept of our healthcare system cry on the inside, is the fact that if we raise the retirement age, as proposed by this gourmand, and this also includes raising the age to qualify for Medicare, all we are really doing is creating a higher concentration of less-healthy people on the system.

    In order to ease the burden of Medicare on the average citizen, the absolute easiest solution would be to actually lower the age eligibility, as this would increase the number of healthier people within the system. They would thus be paying more in premiums and offsetting the costs of those less-healthy older participants.

    Only in America can an already established politician run for the highest position of public office on antiquated ideas and general ignorance, while also receiving thunderous applause from voters.

    The enemy has been met and it is us.

    Dan McGrath