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“Do the math!” – Social Security and Medicare Need Reform - AP News

The political posturing is almost breathtaking. Democrats tagging Republicans as wanting to cut both Social Security and Medicare (thus frightening millions of American seniors) while Republicans are vowing that cuts to either program are “off the table.” But aside from the political rhetoric, doing the math reveals a much different political approach is needed.

When Social Security was last faced with insolvency back in 1982, Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat “Tip” O’Neal (then Speaker of the House) set partisan differences aside and agreed on program changes which restored Social Security to solvency for over four decades. That same bipartisan spirit is what is so desperately needed today as both Social Security and Medicare face insolvency (Social Security in 2035 and the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund in 2028). Instead, all we seem to hear from the halls of Congress and the President are back and forth accusations and hyperbole designed for political advantage. Why are the politics so bad? To quote from this AP News article by Josh Boak and Amanda Seitz:

“It’s because of the composition of the electorate. AP VoteCast found that nearly six in 10 voters in last year’s midterms were older than 50. Of that group, three in 10 were 65 or older. This means that a dominant bloc of voters already benefit from these programs or are on the verge of doing so.”

In other words, politics over necessity. Structural reform of both programs – to deal with the reality of today’s life expectancy being about two decades more than when the programs were enacted – is now a necessity. Click here to read the AP News article which explains how current political toxicity is preventing problem resolution.

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