(Bloomberg Politics) — Every election cycle, candidates who want to burnish their fiscal hawk credentials warn that entitlements are going to run out of money. This election cycle is different: The Social Security disability trust fund really is in danger of running low before it’s over.
According to Social Security’s actuary, if nothing is done by late 2016, the fund that paid $141 billion to disability beneficiaries will be able to meet just 81 percent of its obligations.
Most Republicans want to use this crisis to reform Social Security, arguing that a disability system that’s seen enrollment nearly treble over 30 years is simply unsustainable. Some have talked about this more elegantly than others. In a January visit to New Hampshire, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul half-joked that “over half the people on disability are anxious or their back hurts.”
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running a populist, pro-entitlement campaign– far out of step with most Republicans–said last week that the disability program needed to be treated sensitively. “We should approach it that people are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around,” he told Bloomberg. “You should make the government prove that a person isn’t in need, rather than the person having to absolutely prove that they are.”
See also: Jeb Bush’s emails are available online