Major changes need to be made to the national healthcare and social security systems to ensure that future needs are met, the head of the Government Accountability Office says.[@@]
Speaking at a symposium sponsored by MetLife and the American Benefits Council on the future of retirement benefits, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker said that the U.S. must change how it spends money for the social security and healthcare systems or else face severe problems in the future.
The need for change is the result of several factors, including the overall aging of the population, he said. In addition, labor force growth “has declined very rapidly and is expected to grow very slowly in the coming years,” Walker said.
How the government spends money is also a factor, he said. Social security spending has cut into the percentage of the federal budget spent on defense during the last 40 years, and the percentage spent on interest for national debt, long stable, is set to rise dramatically. In fact, Walker showed that interest payments would consume most, if not all, of federal revenues by 2040 if current trends continue.
“The past cannot be prologue to the future,” he said. “That cannot continue.”
Walker said that the issue should be looked at in terms of making changes and rethinking the entire social security system, rather than by changing or adding a program to the system.