Social Security, Medicare Trust Funds Sink, by Martin Crutsinger
(an AP excerpt from Excite)
"WASHINGTON (AP) - The trust fund for Social Security will be depleted in 2040, a year before expected, and Medicare will exhaust its trust fund reserves just 12 years from now, trustees for the programs said Monday.
"Their annual report showed deterioration in the financial condition of both of the government's two largest benefit programs.
"A year ago, the depletion of the Social Security trust fund had been projected to occur in 2041 and the Medicare hospital insurance fund in 2020."
I confess headlines like this confuse me. No, I mean, they really confuse the hell outta me! I'm not very astute when it comes to public finance so when I first read this story today, I found myself heading for the Maalox closet. Then I thought, "Relax, what's cause for alarm here? First, I'll probably be dead before either Medicare or Social Security go bankrupt."
"So, okay, okay, Medicare goes belly up in 2018, Social Security in 2040...what's the big deal with that?" Then I thought of our wars.
"When's the last time the war in Afghanistan was in the black? Or Iraq?" I mused. "Oh my god! I don't think these wars are even being financed within the annual federal budget like Social Security and Medicare. I mean, here are two wars that NEVER were 'pay as you go'. They're being charged to our kids and grandkids.
Well, this was reassuring to me because if we can 'charge card' global war, surely when Medicare and Social Security need to increase their credit line to include going into debt to pay for a little security for our citizenry it surely won't be a problem, right?
For a moment or two I felt reassured. Then it hit me: I was comparing apples and oranges here.
To finance social programs that benefit Americans, we must be fiscally responsible. To be otherwise makes headlines. But to blow the shit out of innocent citizens in other countries, fiscal responsibility is out the window. Barely gets a mention in the media. For these kinds of programs, seems we have an unlimited credit line to charge our asses into total bankruptcy to destroy everyone else. It's not even news. God forbid if we extend such financial grace to needy Americans!
Social Security and Medicare bankruptcy make big headlines. Financing bankrupting global wars don't. Okay,so it's back to the Maalox closet.