Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sid Salter: Whistling Through the Graveyard

Both here in Mississippi and nationally, congressional candidates are making no mention of the serious challenges faced by the present iterations of the Social Security and Medicare programs. Baby Boomers poised to collect the entitlements are decidedly not ignoring the issues, but are nervously reading disturbing warnings that fiscal danger looms.


The Social Security and Medicare Trustees released their annual report earlier this month and documented the fiscal realities of the two programs. The latest projections show that Medicare Hospital Trust Fund (Part A of Medicare) will be depleted in 2026, three years earlier than projected last year.

At the point, trustees project that Medicare could continue to pay out 91 percent of current benefits in 2026, then see that decline to 78 percent in 2039, then rebound to 85 percent in 2092. Bottom line, less Medicare benefits to cover skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Social Security Disability insurance is projected to experience similar difficulties in 2032, which the Social Security retirement program is projected to be impacted in 2034 – that is to say that the Social Security Trust Fund will deplete its reserves by 2034.

What does that mean? It means that Social Security will in 2034 not be able to pay beneficiaries in full and that beneficiaries will face a 21 percent across the board benefit reduction from numbers shown on the annual benefits projections from the Social Security Administration.

Those facts matter only to voters who have plans to actually receive Social Security and Medicare benefits from the same federal government who deducted taxes supposedly dedicated from their paychecks expressly for the purpose of funding the programs.

What retirees and Baby Boomers really have in terms of that “nest egg” they thought they had in Social Security and Medicare when FICA was being deducted from their payroll checks is in reality a pile of congressional IOUs in a U.S. Treasury Department Bureau of the Public Debt’s filing cabinet in Parkersburg, W. Va. The bonds aren’t backed by the cash we gave the government from our payroll deductions.

They are backed by the “full faith and credit” of the federal government. But Congress long ago spent the actual assets to fund other government functions and to redeem the bonds, the government would now have to borrow money or raise taxes.

Conservative Republican former Social Security and Medicare public trustee Charles Blahous recently wrote: “What’s really important is the magnitude of the (Social Security and Medicare) shortfalls and the difficulty of correcting them, which grows each year. Whether depletion is distant or near, the problem had to be confronted sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, later has come sooner than the trustees thought it would.”

Democratic former chief economist to former Vice President Joe Biden took this posture on the entitlement programs: “What is the way forward? Surely, the sooner we tackle these shortfalls, the better. Wouldn’t it be awesome to avoid yet another one of those fiscal cliffs that we know is coming but are too dysfunctional to address until the last minute, when we kludge together some patch?”

The bottom line is that Social Security and Medicare as we know it today is on borrowed time. “Saving” the programs – and even that concept is a stretch in the current fiscal and political climate in this country – will require additional government revenues and austerity measures both in terms of healthcare costs and in program eligibility.

In other words, the entitlements have to be reformed at the same time that new revenues are found to shore up the shortfalls. And yet, while cruising through congressional elections, voters aren’t having conversations with the candidates about these two vital issues – and that fact is a true electoral mystery.


Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Liberal Democratic leadership (perhaps an oxymoron) opposes any restriction on immigration and lam bast the president about such daily.The normal democrat counts on the state and Feds to support them, in whole or part. What a juxtaposition! The normal democrat should be violently opposed to illegals consuming $50,000 giving birth at Baptist because that is going to be less for the democrats to have.Yet the dem leadership continues to support that which is inimical to their followers and yet the sheep still follow. These are very ignorant souls.

Anonymous said...

KF, you could save some money by not paying for Sid (MSU propaganda specialist) for stating the obvious every week.

Anonymous said...

Anyone recall Salter ever asking Thaddeus to lay off the Chinese debt purchased budget busting deficit spending?

Anonymous said...

The only thing that is going to save SS is more workers and most immagrants work.

Anonymous said...

3:07 PM Back in the old days they used to complain about black people (most used the n word actually) being born at Baptist. The Confederacy is never coming back.

Anonymous said...

Liberal media agent, Sif Salter, refers to SS as "entitlements", the new liberal term for the money hard working people paid in, Under law, and expect to get back after retirement. How is that an entitlement?? It's our money...

Anonymous said...

I'm with 6:10. Since I'm self-employed I'll fork over almost $16,000 in SS tax this year (plus several thousand in Medicare taxes). "Entitlement?" Try calling it a lousy return on my money.

Anonymous said...

@6:10 It's an Entitlement because it was taken by force. We do not have the power to keep it if we wanted to. If we had an opt in/out mechanism, it wouldn't be called an entitlement, because most would opt out, but then they would be SOL in old age.

Anonymous said...

6:54 if you were forced to put 13% of your earnings in a 401(k) every year instead of giving it to SS, you would be a millionaire at retirement. Hardly SOL.

Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative and I support immigration as long as we know who is coming in. For lots of reasons...most of which which are beyond 3:07's ability to understand.

Anonymous said...

How is being conservative germane to your immigration position?

Anonymous said...

(1) Starting with people born after 1980, gradually raise the retirement age to 70 with reduced benefits available at age 65. (2) Increase the Social Security tax on higher earning taxpayers. (3) Cut Social Security benefits across the board by 1% per year for 5 years. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! Sid was a conservative and Republican before many of you were born and when this State was dominated by Democrats.
The idea that he's a liberal is hysterically funny!

Anonymous said...

The idea that Sid is conservative is woefully ignorant.

Anonymous said...

How is being conservative germane to your immigration position?

We didn't say nothing about no Germans. -- Sheriff Buford T. Justice

Anonymous said...

The idea that the misnomer "entitlements" is somehow a liberal construction is ludicrous.

"“The one thing that got away from us, which is my signature issue, is entitlement reform,” Ryan, R Wis., told Hayes at the Midwest Conservative Summit, sponsored by The Weekly Standard and held in Wisconsin." Paul Ryan, April 30, 2018.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of more examples of how Republicans have turned contractual obligations, into "entitlements". It's much easier to demonize that way. It's easier to sell "entitlements" because that denotes that (pick your target) is getting something for free from good, hard working, 'Mericans. The people actually about to be screwed, are the people who actually funded it, but that certainly won't go over well in this day and age, so you convince the people that are going to get screwed that its "their" or "those people's" fault, not utter and complete mismanagement and fealty to the donor class. Social Security is an easy fix. Take the $128,000 cap off Social Security. Actually tax all income for Social Security, not just the first $128k. But the donor class won't stand for that, and thus we have "entitlements". Medicare is a more problematic fix, as that would require having some kind of national standard for actual medical costs, and the medical and pharmacy lobbies sure ain't gonna go for that, so you can continue to expect $9,000 kidney stone ER visits that consist of an IV and maybe 90 seconds of human interaction.

But yes, it's all Democrats, illegal immigrants, etc. fault. Certainly not Republicans. The fact Republicans have had control of the House of Representatives for 19 of the last 23 years, and the House having the "power of the purse", is merely a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty funny when you hear baby boomers complaining about the lazy generation x and millennials and yet refuse to acknowledge that they have left this country in far worse shape. There is no wage growth, education is unattainable without a mountain of debt, our healthcare system is broken, and the environment is wrecked. Maybe try to look into a mirror instead of blaming the Mexicans and the liberals for all the issues you old farts. If anything, I think we should make the boomers fix something out of their own pockets instead of continuing to bleed the system dry.

Anonymous said...

9:20. This boomer agrees. Also, Sid is dishonest. He strongly supports those that caused this mess like Thad.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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