Editor’s Note; One in a series examining President Barack Obama’s campaign promises and what he is doing, or not doing, to keep them.
As the population gets older, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are eating up more and more of the federal budget, squeezing the ability of the government to pay for other programs. Today, the three massive benefit programs account for 44 percent of federal spending. Left unchanged, they will account for more than 60 percent in 25 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports Social Security is projected to run out of money in 2033. At that point, the retirement and disability program would collect only enough in payroll taxes to pay about 75 percent of benefits.
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Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is in worse shape. It is projected to run out of money in 2024. At that point, it would only be able to pay 87 percent of costs, according to projections by the trustees who oversee Medicare and Social Security.
The campaign promise:
Obama rarely mentioned Social Security during his 2012 re-election campaign. Four years earlier, he was more forthcoming.
In a 2008 speech to AARP: “John McCain’s campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either.”
On Medicare, Obama told the Democratic convention on Sept. 6, 2012: “Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more.”