Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Social Security and Medicare Did Not Cause The Deficit

The Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget have released their FY 2007 US Financial Report. This report shows that by using the same accounting methods as private companies, the federal budget deficit is actually 69% higher than the administration reported two months ago, putting the deficit at $275.5 billion for this fiscal year. The Bush administration will proudly tell you that this is 38% less than last year’s deficit. But who would’ve thought seven years ago we would be expected to celebrate a $275.5. billion dollar deficit?

Rather than focusing on the tax and spend policies which created this deficit, this report touts the “healthy economy” and continues to issue more dire warnings of an “oncoming fiscal train wreck” of entitlement spending.

Let’s be clear here, entitlement costs did not create our current budget deficit. The challenges facing each of these programs are different and they’ll require unique solutions, yet the Bush administration continues to lump Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid together in an attempt to persuade older Americans and their families to foot the bill for this administration’s irresponsible budget policies. The long-term challenges facing Social Security are modest and manageable and should be addressed -- but there is no need to buy into this “crisis” campaign designed to persuade Americans this program must be eviscerated in order to be fixed.

Medicare, on the other hand, faces a shortfall in 2019 in large part because it suffers from the same skyrocketing healthcare costs Americans are seeing nationwide. We can’t continue to ignore national health care reform if we want to control federal spending. Yet the administration’s supporters continue to ignore the real issues in favor of their rhetoric designed to erode Americans’ deep faith in social insurance programs.

Americans want fiscal discipline returned to Washington; however, the challenges facing Medicare and Social Security are different. A one-size-fits-all ‘let’s cut entitlements’ approach won’t work no matter how hard the Bush administration tries to sell it.

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