One of the more pernicious talking points from the D.C. Republicans over the years has been their claim that Social Security and Medicare are going broke, and we can’t afford these programs. The right wing has been perpetrating this myth for years because they oppose these successful and popular programs. The Washington Republicans and their wealthy benefactors don’t want the American people to realize that government can help people and be a force for good. Just what kinds of predictions have the radical right been making about the future of Social Security and Medicare? Just how solvent are these programs? What can we do to make sure these programs will continue to be secure?
Just one year after the passage of Social Security, during the heat of the 1936 Presidential campaign, GOP Presidential nominee Alf Landon said that: ”If the present compulsory insurance plan remains in force, our old people are only too apt to find the cupboard bare.” George W. Bush predicted in 1978 that Social Security would go broke in 1988 unless Congress privatized the system. Closer to home and more recently, Senator Ben Sasse claimed that: ”entitlement reform must be addressed now before those programs, if not restructured, collapse of their own weight.”
The Washington Republican’s predictions about the future solvency of Medicare have been equally wrong. In 1983, Senator Pete Domenici Republican (R-NM) alleged that: ”Medicare can be bankrupt in 2 ½ years unless some way is found to put the brakes on its burgeoning costs.” In his 1986 memoirs, former U.S. Senator Carl Curtis (R-NE) claimed that Medicare would be broke and unable to pay medical bills no later than 1991. The so-called “liberal mainstream media” has even got into the act. For example, the New York Times predicted in 1989 that Medicare would “become insolvent in the next decade or so.”
According to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will remain solvent, that is, being able to pay 100% of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides through 2029. Even in 2029, when the Health Insurance Trust Fund is projected to be depleted, incoming payroll taxes and other revenue will be sufficient to pay 88% of Medicare hospital insurance costs. This shortfall will need to be closed through increasing revenues, reducing the growth in costs, or most likely a combination of both.
The future prospect for Social Security are equally bright. At the present time, Social Security is in a position to pay all benefits owed until 2034. In the unlikely event no changes are made to Social Security in the next 16 years, this program will still be in a position to pay around 75% of all promised benefits. However, one modest change could keep Social Security viable for the next 75 years. If the Social Security cap was lifted and all earnings above $200,000.00 were subject to payroll tax, the Social Security Trust Fund would remain solvent until 2088.
For decades, the Washington Republicans and their reactionary billionaire allies have falsely predicted the demise of Social Security and Medicare because these programs have been so successful. Thanks to these programs, the poverty rate for Americans over age 65 has been reduced from over 50% to 9%. Due to Social Security and Medicare, most of our country’s senior citizens now enjoy a middle class standard of living or better. The radical right oppose these programs because they prove that government can work.
The radical right’s “solutions” for Social Security and Medicare consist of privatizing them and turning them over to Wall Street and the health insurance industry, respectively. Representative Jeff Fortenberry has voted several times to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program. The Fortenberry plan on Medicare would cost the average senior citizen an additional $6,000.00 in out of pocket medical expenses on an annual basis.
I am running for Congress to protect Social Security and Medicare. Our senior citizens deserve a dignified retirement after a long life of hard work. I will oppose any attempt to privatize Social Security and Medicare.
Jeff Fortenberry has put Trump and the special interests first. I am running to put Nebraska First, Nebraska Always. That is why I am running for Congress.