Finally, a fix for Social Security and Medicare?

I’ll believe it when it happens, but amidst all the partisan bitterness handcuffing Washington, there might be some progress.

A bipartisan bill, the TRUST Act (S.2733) doesn’t lay out a specific plan to preserve the endangered Medicare, Social Security and other federal trust funds from drying up. But if passed, it would force a long-delayed, bipartisan “conversation” on finding a solution.

It would require the Treasury Department to give Congress a report on the condition of the funds, upon which screen-shot-2020-01-09-at-12-04-15-pmcongressional leaders would create  bipartisan “rescue committees” for each fund to draft rescue legislation. By law, the bills would receive “expedited” consideration.

While getting together to talk may not sound like much, it’s a hell of a lot better than ignoring the problem, which has been going on for so long that it wears the cloak of official policy.

The Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts Act is co-sponsored by senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). It has picked up endorsements from both sides of the aisle. 

Now it has received two important endorsements from budget hawks former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former Democratic White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles who are co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

This news, of course, has been squeezed out by the impulsive, mind-numbing coverage of Trump’s impeachment. If it weren’t for that, it would/should be front-page news.

That’s because Social Security’s combined major trust funds have less than $3 trillion left, and if that sounds like a lot, consider that it all will be gone in 13 years. The  Medicare Part A fund (hospital, skilled nursing’s and home care services) will be exhausted in only six years.

With the federal debt roaring past $21 trillion, a fact that is as important as a presidential impeachment, consider this: Social Security and Medicare accounted for 45 percent of all federal spending in 2018, a fact that should scare the bejabers out of all of us.

Unfunded promises made by Washington is a familiar story to Illinois readers, who are on the hook for more than $200 billion in pension debt. 

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

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  • so what is your answer to fix social security and medicare?

  • The usual answer: more taxes and/or benefit cuts. I'm not aware of a viable third option. More taxes include retirees paying a bigger share of SS and Medicare. It's sad commentary that just talking about it is considered a step toward a solution.

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