It’s safe to say Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much, but one group of 100 from both sides of the aisle are now calling on Congress to find a funding fix for Social Security and Medicare.
The Bipartisan Policy Center in tandem with the National Academy of Social Insurance delivered a letter signed by 100 individuals from both political parties Tuesday. In the letter, the two organizations are asking Congress to fill two public trustee roles that have been vacant since 2015.
These roles are supposed to be filled by one Republican and one Democrat, and the two work with the Medicare and Social Security boards to provide independent guidance on the future of the two programs. A yearly report shows that the Social Security trust fund will be insolvent by 2035, and Medicare is even more dire straits with a 2026 insolvency date. Social Security wouldn’t completely run out in 2035, but it would only pay out 80% of benefits to anyone enrolled in the program.
The letter to Congress brings to attention the fact that the vacancies are “violating the intent of federal law and depriving Congress and the public of key objective insights into the health of the (Social Security and Medicare) Trust Funds,” according to MarketWatch. The Bipartisan Policy Center blames Congress for not prioritizing filling the spots after they became vacant during the Obama administration.
President Donald Trump has nominated two candidates: Republican James Lockhart III, who was once the chief operating officer for the Social Security Administration, and Democrat William Dauster, an economist with over two decades of experience working in the Senate and White House. The Senate only needs to confirm the nominations so the two could start their four-year terms.
“It is imperative that the vacancies are filled expeditiously to ensure the proper monitoring and safeguarding of the funds that help provide a secure financial foundation for millions of Americans,” the letter said.
And the letter isn’t signed by a bunch of no-names, either. Former staff from the Trump, Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton administrations are among the signees, along with former Congressional Budget Office directors and former members of Congress.
“The fact that it’s signed by prominent folks from both sides of the aisle — 100 former public officials equally split — saying it’s urgent to be acted on speaks volumes about the need to get this done even in the midst of a very partisan environment,” Bipartisan Policy Center Director Shai Akabas, said.
While appointing these new members to the trust funds may not be the solution Social Security and Medicare need, it would be a step in the right direction for fixing what is a glaring issue. And hopping on it sooner rather than later is necessary.
“We really need to work well in advance of that date,” Akabas said. “Because at that point, a 20% gap of what is taken in and paid out and closing that overnight is next to impossible.”
Fifteen years may seem far off, and while Congress has never let Social Security or Medicare fail, it’s never too early to start crafting a solution to fix these benefit programs that so many rely on.
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