Don't Ignore Social Security and Medicare Reform
Hutchison, Kay Bailey, St. Joseph News-Press
(CNN) -- This week, Americans were confronted -- yet again -- with more of the same refusal by President Barack Obama to take on the greatest long-term threat to our economic and health care security. Consistent with his track record, the president's annual budget proposal offers no credible reforms for our entitlement programs that will ensure their solvency in the years to come. Instead, his budget reflects the same disregard he demonstrated last month, in his 7,000-word State of the Union address, in which only 40 words were used to talk about Social Security and Medicare.
The fact is Social Security and Medicare, vital to the welfare of tens of millions of Americans, account for nearly half of all federal spending. That percentage will continue to increase in the coming years. Left on its current trajectory, overall entitlement spending is projected to more than double by 2049, thus consuming 100% of all tax revenue.
It should be no surprise that the payroll tax-supported trust funds that pay out Social Security and Medicare benefits are speeding toward a financial collapse. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare in its current form will be bankrupt by 2022. Social Security's chief actuary calculates that a 23% cut in benefits in 2036 will be required in order to maintain solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.
Of the two programs, Social Security can be shored up for nearly a generation with simple modest reforms. Medicare reform is far more complicated. However, if Congress passes a bipartisan Social Security reform, then the momentum of that accomplishment can prompt leaders of both parties to tackle Medicare reform.
Last year, I introduced the Defend and Save Social Security Act, which would ensure that Social Security is solvent for the next 75 years, through very gradual yearly increases of only three months per year in the retirement age and a modest adjustment to the annual cost-of-living increases . It would keep core benefits untouched and requires no new taxes. Enacting such modest, incremental changes would avoid bankrupting the trust fund and forcing a 23% cut in core benefits in 2036 . …