Before we delve into the health care debate it will be helpful to get some background on Social Security and Medicare. So please spend at least one hour on the following assignments; the readings are not long, but they are dense, so concentrate and get out of them everything you can. Bring your questions to class on Friday!

  • Spend 20-30 minutes reading the highlighted portions of the 2009 summary report by the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Pay particular attention to charts B and C.
  • Download either or both of the 2009 Social Security Trustees Report or the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report. These are giant documents, so all I want you to do is take 10 minutes to search for the phrase “present value” until you find a dollar amount for the present value of the 75-year or infinite-horizon deficits. Make sure you understand what this means! (And if you don’t understand, look in the glossary at the end of the report ūüôā
  • Spend 10-20 minutes talking with your parent(s) or other(s) about their opinion(s). How much do they know about these programs? Do they think these programs are in trouble? What should we do? Etc.
  • If you have a few minutes at the end or are otherwise interested, read my (draft) 2005 Social Security Coloring Book. It’s a few years old, and no it’s not a real coloring book, and it’s certainly not an official government publication, but it might be a helpful resource.
  • You are of course also free to bring to class or email other articles you find useful.