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Countdown to Insolvency By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 10, 2009

The last two months have produced somewhat of a crescendo of alarming statistics about the solvency of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The context, to phrase it mildly, is troublesome: A national and universal recession; our federal government running an unprecedented deficit; and “Stimulus” taxpayers’ money dished out in huge sums, with highly questionable theory, application, and results.

Many call economics the “dismal science.” Sometimes, events make it so.

To summarize the latest data, let us note a historical figure and three even more lugubrious figures arising from sources which appear to be competent arithmeticians and reasonably thorough compilers of relevant figures. Those sources are the 2009 Trustee Reports for Social Security and Medicare.

Last year, disbursements exceeded income of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. It is projected that in 2016 Social Security Trust Fund disbursements will exceed income; in 2017 the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will consume its remaining assets; in 2037 the Social Security Trust Fund will collapse.

The administration and Congress need to act thoughtfully and thoroughly, with a view to resolution during the 111th and 112th Congresses – that is, before the 2012 elections. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-MD, has said a solution “may be difficult politically but not mathematically.”

Hoyer's statements seem unduly optimistic.

Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.

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