VP candidate, Sarah Palin, showed an unfortunate lack of understanding about Social Security and Medicare in her very first comments on their funding and future.  This is especially disconcerting for the millions of Americans and their families (inlcuding more than 62,000 of her Alaskan constituents) who depend on these programs just to get by.

 In Friday's ABC News interview with Charlie Gibson, the topic turned to the economy, the budget and spending.  
GIBSON: Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?  PALIN: I am sure that there are efficiencies that are going to be found in all of these agencies. I'm confident in that.   GIBSON: The agencies are not involved in entitlements. Basically, discretionary spending is 18 percent of the budget.   PALIN: We have certainly seen excess in agencies, though, and in -- when bureaucrats, when bureaucracy just gets kind of comfortable, going with the status-quo and not being challenged to find efficiencies and spend other people's money wisely ... then that's where we get into the situation that we are into today, and that is a tremendous growth of government, a huge debt, trillions of dollars of debt that we're passing on to my kids and your kids and your grandkids ... It's unacceptable.  
For those of you who have to see it to believe it, here's the clip:   

First off we have to assume she meant "inefficiencies".  Once you get beyond the vocabulary, giving this answer to a question about "entitlements" really doesn't make sense because administrative costs for both Social Security and Medicare are the among the lowest in the entire government.  It's pretty obvious that  1% administrative costs for Social Security and 2% for Medicare are not examples of government inefficiencies. These administrative rates are far below what would be charged if Social Security was privatized and what we currently see in the private sector health insurance market.  

 In fact, a recent Kaiser report on Medicare found:
 Program administration is not a contributing factor to Medicare's expenditure growth. The costs of administering the Medicare program have remained low over the years - about 2 percent of program expenditures. This covers all expenses by government agencies in administering the program.
Clearly, these particular agencies don't fit the waste and inefficiency talking points. So other than boilerplate anti-government rhetoric, viewers received no real answers from Governor Palin on what the McCain administration plans for seniors and their families.   We can only hope there will be serious follow up during the Vice Presidential debate, on October 2nd .