Political observers often refer to Social Security and Medicare as the “third rails” of politics: touch them and you die. This year is no exception. Once again, the political rhetoric has been dialed up to attack those advocating reforms to save these programs.
Despite these politically motivated attacks, there is a broad consensus on the need for reform among non-partisan experts responsible for analyzing the financial condition of these programs.
Consider the following:
The non-partisan Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary currently projects that those close to retirement, now aged 55 to 62, will see their benefits slashed by 22% when they are in their 80s – when they are most reliant on Social Security. This will hit those that depend primarily on Social Security for their retirement security – lower-income Americans – the hardest. For those now 40 and younger, they will see their benefits cut by 22% for each year of retirement, despite the fact that they had paid taxes their entire working lives.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the Federal debt is growing at such an alarming rate that we will face a fiscal crisis within the next two decades. In fact, the debt grows so quickly that they cannot model a functioning economy after 2037.
The Medicare Chief Actuary projects that Medicare will go bankrupt in the next decade, while the program continues to crowd out the Federal budget and the national economy. Due to reductions in Medicare provider payments and other provisions from the recent health care overhaul, Medicare’s Chief Actuary projects that 40% of Medicare providers – such as doctors and hospitals – will be driven out of the industry, disrupting care and restricting access for seniors.