By Representative Tim Walberg (MI-7)
Every day approximately ten thousand people reach their retirement age. Many have spent a lifetime working to care for their families and save for retirement all while paying federal taxes. The taxes paid into Social Security and Medicare have helped make these programs successful for past generations of retirees.
However, there is no denying that the past financial crisis and the ensuing recession coupled with the increasing number of participants entering retirement has taken a toll on the Social Security and Medicare Part A trust funds. In fact, the 2013 Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees annual reports found that the Social Security's retirement Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2033 and the Medicare's Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will become insolvent by 2026. I believe in maintaining the strength of these programs and in order to protect future surpluses of these trust funds, Congress must first enact meaningful reforms to ensure they remain for current and future generations of beneficiaries.
Currently, the funding for Social Security and Medicare programs comes from specific taxes for each program that are levied on the income of every working American. Once collected by the Internal Revenue Service, they pay for current beneficiaries. In years prior to the 2008 recession, more money was collected for Social Security and Medicare than was paid out to seniors. The surpluses were directed to their respective trust funds; however, they were never safeguarded and as result the accounts were raided of cash intended to help our seniors and replaced with Government I.O.U.s.
As a country, we need to be ready to fix this problem once our economy recovers by making reforms that strengthen both programs. Once this occurs, more money will flow back into the trust funds to bolster their coffers. To address this issue I introduced H.R. 1517, the Social Security and Medicare Lock-Box Act, which would establish separate surplus accounts for both the Social Security and Medicare Part A trust fund and help protect against anyone in Washington from spending those resources on unrelated projects. Washington may be broken but legislation like H.R. 1517 will help ensure retirees' hard-earned tax dollars are protected and our promise to seniors is kept.