The budget outlook for Social Security is getting dimmer, the U.S. government said, with its primary trust fund now projected to run dry three years sooner than anticipated.
The fund that helps finance benefits for 44 million senior citizens and survivors of deceased workers will be exhausted by 2035, the program’s trustees said in an annual report yesterday. Aid would have to be cut at that point if Congress doesn’t intervene.
Social Security’s disability program, which helps support 11 million Americans, will run through its trust fund in 2016, two years earlier than predicted. The report attributed the fiscal stress in part to the weak economy.
The main trust fund that supports the Medicare health-care program for the elderly will run out of money in 2024, the report said.
Here's what the White House has to say about the new report:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration would seek to work with Congress to come up with a long-term solution to repair the solvency of the disability trust fund but didn't offer specifics.
And here's what House Budget chair Paul Ryan has to say:
“In their latest report, the trustees of Medicare and Social Security warn that the health and retirement security of millions of seniors remains in jeopardy if these programs are left on their present course. Decades of empty promises from politicians refusing to be honest about the need for reform are threatening to become broken promises, with disastrous consequences for seniors. In the heart of their retirement, current seniors are scheduled to be hit with a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut when Social Security’s trust funds are exhausted. Meanwhile, Medicare’s looming insolvency puts at risk the critical access to care that seniors have come to expect from this important program.
“Rather than work together to advance solutions, the President has opted to play politics with seniors’ care. The President and his party’s leaders continue to distort efforts to save and strengthen Medicare in an effort to distract seniors from the consequences of their health care law. The massive health care law raids over $500 billion from Medicare to finance a new health care entitlement, and hands Medicare’s fate over to an unaccountable board of 15 unelected bureaucrats. This board of bureaucrats will be empowered to cut Medicare in ways that will result in restricted access and denied care for current seniors, while still leaving the program bankrupt for future generations.
“Seniors deserve better from President Obama. To prevent the President’s empty promises from becoming broken promises, Medicare and Social Security – critical programs designed in the mid-20th century – must be strengthened for the 21st century. I remain committed to advancing principled, bipartisan reforms that fulfill the missions of these important programs.”
"Hope and change"? Let's hope for change in 2012.