Do We Have The Will To Fix Entitlements?

May 6, 2012

The Social Security Act was signed on Aug. 14, 1936, as part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” When speaking about the proposed Social Security program during his 1935 State of the Union message, Roosevelt added this ominous message:

“The lessons of history, confirmed by evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence on relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is a violation of the traditions of America.”

President Lyndon Johnson added Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 in his Social Security Act of 1965 as part of his “Great Society” program.

The urgency to reform Social Security and Medicare was brought home in stark reality to readers in a government report on Tuesday, April 24, in the Business Section of Lake County News-Sun by Stephen Ohlemacher. His article, “Aging workforce strains Social Security, Medicare”, told how this nation’s Social Security and Medicare programs are siding toward insolvency.

Medicare alone faces an unfunded liability of $38.6 trillion. Unfunded benefits over the next 75 years will equal $328,404.43 for each household, as formulated by the number of American households by the Census Bureau in 2010.

Social Security faces an unfunded liability of $8.6 trillion. The $8.6 trillion of unfunded Social Security benefits equals $73,167.83 per household, which is, as in the Medicare projection, based on the Census Bureau’s number of American households in 2010.

One of the least known facts about Social Security is that, although the government does have a moral obligation to pay Social Security benefits to those who have earned them, the government does not have a legal obligation to do so. Will legislators continue to push Social Security and Medicare reform down a roadway which will soon lead directly off a cliff? The Tuesday. April 24, dismal forecast should increase pressure on the White House and Congress to tackle these entitlement programs, but will they?

What the American people should fear more than any reforms made to Medicare and Social Security which might potentially affect their benefits is the impending financial crisis that is leading this nation toward the fate of Greece and other failed European welfare countries.

Will legislators have the courage to do what must be done to save Social Security and Medicaid for further generations of Americans, or do they care more about being re-elected?

 

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