Fiddling while benefits burn

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The arithmetic is simple: Retirement security is in peril.

THE POLITICIANS in Washington are too busy arguing and pointing fingers to notice little things like a report stating Social Security and Medicare will be insolvent in just a few years.

But that's what a report concluded last week, that within a decade or so the government won't be taking in enough money to fully pay benefits and the so-called trust funds - which really are just a stack of IOUs because the politicians already spent the money - won't cover costs either.

Did you miss all the newscasts and cable talking heads prattling on about smart plans being offered by Congress and the White House to meet the crisis and fix the problems?

You did not, because there are no plans. Just the usual - the sound of silence from our elected representatives, who have no answers.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK at the scope of the problem.

The annual federal budget projection for 2020 calls for $4.7 trillion in spending. Of that, in the latest figures we could find, at least $853 billion goes to Social Security benefits; $147 billion to disability benefits; $740 billion to Medicare benefits; and $350 billion to Medicaid ($545 billion when state supplements are thrown in).

That's just a little shy of half the entire annual federal budget.

Throw in nearly $500 billion to pay interest on the national debt and $750 billion for the Pentagon, and about three-quarters of the federal budget is wiped out before consideration of any other program or need.

ONE CAN UNDERSTAND why the politicians run away from the Social Security and Medicare questions. Millions and millions of people depend on these programs. Most of them vote.

Neither is the politicians' thought process difficult to discern. It goes like this: "I'll be gone before the roof falls in on people."

And think about this. Some candidates itching to occupy the White House want to put everybody on Medicare, not to mention give all young people free college.

Get a firm grip on your wallet. Hang on tight.

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