The message from the Social Security and Medicare trustees last week could not have been more blunt: the two programs’ long-term costs “are not sustainable with currently scheduled financing and will require legislative action to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.”
This conclusion should take no one by surprise. The pressures on both programs from population aging and rising health care costs have been warned about many times by many nonpartisan sources.
What is surprising is that so few lawmakers seem to take these warnings seriously.
After all, Social Security and Medicare are not insignificant programs. In 2014, 59 million Americans received Social Security benefits, and Medicare covered 54 million. At a cost of nearly $1.5 trillion, the two programs alone accounted for 42 percent of federal program spending last year.
Given their size and importance for so many American families, the fact that Social Security and Medicare are on an unsustainable track should place them high on the legislative agenda for both...