Every year the trustees of Social Security and Medicare issue detailed reports on the financial status of these programs. While the trustees’ reports consistently warn that both programs face serious shortfalls, the urgency of this warning is often undercut by undue attention to the years in which the Social Security trust funds and the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund are projected to become insolvent.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides a critical service for policymakers and the public: projecting the budgetary and economic impacts of proposed legislation. Since its inception in 1974, CBO has established an unparalleled track record for objectivity and analytical rigor.
Many politicians who want to simultaneously receive credit for promoting fiscal responsibility while avoiding the tough decisions required often look for easy solutions. The two most common of these are pledges to cut “waste, fraud and abuse” and to “grow our way out of the problem.” These supposedly easy options, however, are not enough to address our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.