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CBO: Medicare, Social Security and Debt Interest Driving Deficits

Should Congress reform Medicare & Social Security?

by Countable | Updated on 1.30.19

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) outlook on the budget and economy for the next decade and beyond projects that future growth in the federal deficit will be driven by rising mandatory spending on Medicare and Social Security.

Those deficits will in turn cause the national debt to grow by $12 trillion over the next decade to an estimated $33 trillion. Because of the larger debt and higher interest rates, interest payments on the national debt are expected to rise from $383 billion this year to $928 billion in 2029 (an amount larger than the defense budget).

“Beyond 2029, if current laws remained generally unchanged, deficits would continue to grow over the following 20 years, driving debt to its highest levels in the nation’s history. Those large budget deficits would arise because outlays ― particularly for Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the debt ― would grow steadily under current law, and revenues would not keep pace with those outlays.”

The following chart from the CBO shows federal spending on mandatory and discretionary programs, plus net interest as a percentage of the U.S. economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

What’s driving these changes?

The aging of America’s population has led to increased enrollment in Medicare and Social Security, along relatively fewer workers per retiree in the labor force to pay taxes that fund the entitlements' trust funds.

These charts from our partners at USAFacts show that benefits paid to Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries have been rising in recent years:

Because of those factors, the CBO projects the following fate for several of the Social Security & Medicare trust funds:

  • The Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund will start running a deficit in 2020 and is expected to be exhausted in 2027.
  • The Social Security Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund is expected to be exhausted in 2032.
  • The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will start running a deficit in 2020 and is expected to be exhausted in 2026.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / NoDerog)

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(242)
  • Ronald
    Voted No
    01/31/2019
    ···

    This question is framed poorly. The deficit is being driven to new heights as a result of the Republican reallocation of tax payer money to the billionaire class. To create the money flow problem then blame it on the programs you no longer have money for is disingenuous and without honor. Public education is another prime example of these tired old republican tactics. Time for a change not the time to double down on the failed schemes of grandpa and his buddies.

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  • Dicr
    01/31/2019
    ···

    A bloated defense budget and tax cuts to business are the problem. As long as the sheep buy into republican lies human beings will pay the price.

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  • RjGoodman
    Voted Yes
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Medicare & Social Security come out of their own dedicated funds. Yes, they should be reformed to provide services to their intended population. Withholding taxes should be uncapped and perhaps a modest percentage increase. The important things here are DO THE MATH to balance the inflows / outflows and keep Congress out of that Cookie Jar. Oh, and put back what they took out, with interest.

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  • Catherine
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    They should be reformed to save money without cutting any benefits. In fact the benefits should be increased especially for those living on disability and supplemental security income who are living at or below the poverty level. It is way past time for this country to switch over to a Universal Health Care System including free coverage for the entire body and coverage for medications. The best way to raise money to pay the deficit is to appropriately tax the wealthy and corporations not give them tax cuts. That is the part of the population that controls the most money so dollar-for-dollar they should be putting in more money to be proportionate with the amount of money that is put in by the middle class.

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  • Hillary
    Voted No
    01/31/2019
    ···

    1. This is OUR money. Stop calling it an entitlement. 2. Tax the ultra wealthy fairly. They are the ones getting the free ride.

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  • Abbi
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Social security is self funded and Medicare is an absolute necessity. As the EPA allowed more pollutions to be used and spread particularly around poor and minority communities more people get sick so health care is a great need. It however doesn’t spend nearly as much as the military. But tax the rich. They used to pay 90 percent til Regan cut it to 25, so I don’t think AOC’s 70 percent is that bad, they have off shore tax havens, they’ll be fine. Heck tax the churches too since they are in politics now, just give them huge write off for helping the community.

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  • James
    Voted Yes
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Maybe the government should repay all the money taken out of Social Security in the 80's and 90's.

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  • Ellen
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Reform can mean different things to different people. If by reform they mean congress can no longer steal money from Medicare, Medicaid and social security then yes. If they want to stop calling medicare and social security an entitlement then yes (after all, working people pay into these). If they want to establish a one payor system for health care then yes. But I do not trust the GOP and particularly my GOP senators to do any of the above

    Like (17)
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  • eireprof
    Voted No
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Tax the rich. Income inequality is destroying the world.

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  • Page
    Voted No
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Social security and Medicare are paid for by the working people of this country. We have debt due to the sublimely stupid tax cuts for the rich, pork barrel projects, and bloated defense spending. Instead of punishing the hard working middle class, again, let’s get it together and get the needed funds by taxing the wealthiest. Use those funds to work in climate change, healthcare, infrastructure and education.

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  • Dave
    Voted No
    01/31/2019
    ···

    First of all you need 200,000 people a month Employed and a 2% wage increase a year, just to Stay even. Second the economy was put in place in 2009 and still going strong, but with trade war, tariffs and pulling out of the world economy, it will Catch up. You are living off the last administration Accomplishment. For real growth it needs to be above 200,0000 may be 250,000. During bush last 2 years we were loosing 170,000 a month. Companies were dumping people to go over sea, plus the economic bubble Burst, all by the policy put in place. Foxconn, Carrier and others are just smoke by Trump and Pence. We are subsidies farmed and other to keep them afloat. Both under Bush and Trump they gave a tax cut of $800,000 each and the trickle down economic did not work and has never worked. Wages are falling behind every year by 2%. That is why our deficits is about a trillion dollars a years and no money for social security and Medicare.

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  • Robert
    Voted Yes
    01/31/2019
    ···

    We are our brothers and sisters keepers. We are all In this together. The government DOES NOT screw up everything it is involved in. Through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services it administers very efficiently the Medicare program for 55 million Americans. You pay into Medicare all your working life, as well as into Social Security which is another well administered program. Medicare uses private medical professionals to deliver the services which it pays for. Go to providers, hospitals, clinics, labs of your choice. Additionally there are about 10 Medigap plans you can choose from to supplement deductibles and co-pays. These are plans provided by private insurers at competitive prices. Social Security can be solvent by lifting the cap on income that is taxed. Medicare has the policies and administrative structure that work. Everything is in place to extend Medicare to all Americans of all ages. So what's the problem? Lack of willingness for political parties to come together and support a solution the Americans truly want. I've been on Medicare for 13 years and I love it. Administering universal healthcare by extending Medicare to all Americans is the way to go. We can start by lowering the age from 65 to 55. Then phase everybody in gradually over time.

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  • David
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    What needs reform is how it’s paid for. The earnings cap needs to be completely removed. Both trust funds need to be taken off budget so they cannot be tapped for expenses other than what they are designed for, increase FICA taxes as needed to fund both programs, implement Universal Single Payer Healthcare to reduce medical and prescription costs, begin taxing the wealthy as much or more than the middle class and the poor. These steps would be a start.

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  • Kari
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Only if they’re going to expand it. Why do we have infinite funding for weapons, but never any for civilians who pay those taxes?

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  • Martha
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Modifications to M-care and Soc. Sec. might need to be made in order to keep the programs running, but privatizing Soc. Sec. and/or M-care SHOULD NOT, I repeat-NOT BE an option. There are several options that can be implemented that would be helpful, but so far Congress has not proposed those options (like raising the cap on the income that is taxed for Soc. Sec.-oh, I forgot that would impact the rich and heaven forbid we do that, or allowing M-care to negotiate drug prices, etc.). Instead of allowing Trump to keep the gov. shutdown for over a month, maybe Congress should start looking at solutions to shore-up both Soc. Sec. and M-care. I would also recommend that instead of raiding the Soc. Sec. fund to pay for other gov. expenditures that they keep their mitts off of that money and pay back the money that they have already siphoned off.

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  • Don
    Voted Yes
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Let’s fix these important programs, Cut the bureaucracy and waste at social security, streamline your processes. Work on addressing the root cause of healthcare costs not creating profits for health insurance companies. Balance your budget we can’t have both tax cuts and spending increases it’s just irresponsible.

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  • Deborah
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    These programs are earned rights. We have paid into them our entire lives and our benefits should be guaranteed. Steps should be taken to ensure these benefits. Let’s take a look at cutting lifelong health benefits to Congress members. And keep greedy fingers out of the Social Security and Medicare pots. This is a disgrace that it has come to this.

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  • Elham
    Voted No
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Dear all, unfortunately, traditionally reforming social security and medicare was a code for weakening it. We need a reform, but the one that strengthens these social safety nets. As a society, this program is part of the package of what defines us.

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  • ConservativeGuy
    Voted Yes
    01/31/2019
    ···

    The Founding Fathers would be appalled.

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  • Robert
    Voted Maybe
    01/31/2019
    ···

    Soon it will also be an ENORMOUS DEBT for a GIGANTIC WALL with the name “trump” on it?😩

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