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Social insecurity looms.

ITEM: According to the Scripps Howard News Service on July 16th, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten "indicated the president is anxious to act and didn't rule out the possibility that the administration will seek to 'strengthen' the federal pension program [Social Security] before November 2004.... At the same time, with the nation facing a record budget deficit, there exists no urgent need to rush since 'it's one of those problems that can be put off indefinitely because it's not going to bite for a couple of decades,' Bolten said." BETWEEN THE LINES: Social Security is much shakier than Washington likes to admit. Putting off a fix makes the day of reckoning more painful. As Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute points out, every two-year, election-cycle delay piles on an "additional $320 billion to the cost of reform."

The administration worsened matters by attempting to bribe voters with additional Medicare benefits. John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, told the Washington Post that when the Medicare expansion bill is signed, "we will have doubled the size of the Social Security problem."

The situation was already dire. The huge cohort of baby boomers will start reaching retirement age in just five years. In 2008, "the total benefits paid out to Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries will exceed the payroll tax revenues paid in by workers," writes former Delaware Governor Pete du Pont in the Wall Street Journal. Appropriations for this shortfall will have to escalate rapidly--with those two related programs taking 16 percent of income-tax revenues by 2020, 35 percent by 2030, and literally half of all federal income taxes two decades later.
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Title Annotation:Between The Lines
Author:Hoar William P.
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 25, 2003
Words:275
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