Careening toward catastrophe

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Remember the groundswell of public outrage last month about taxes? "Tea party" protests crisscrossed the whole country.

So where's the outrage over the looming crisis surrounding Social Security and Medicare?

Trustees of those two bloated entitlement programs updated America on their status last week, and the latest projections are even worse that had been previously predicted.

Starting in 2016 -- a year earlier than projected -- Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes. In 2037, the huge trust fund will be depleted -- that's four years sooner than was expected.

And Medicare? The hospital expenses program will pay out more in benefits than it collects this year, and is expected to be insolvent by 2017.

This is huge -- a huge disaster.

Last year, the first 3.2 million baby boomers starting drawing Social Security; over the next 20 years, 80 million more will be eligible for government-sponsored retirement benefits.

It's estimated that, by the year 2030, two U.S. workers will be forking over payroll taxes for each U.S. retiree. In 1945, 42 workers contributed to each retiree.

And the unfunded liability for these entitlements are climbing annually by the trillions.

The ballooning cost of retirement and health care is being unfairly pushed off on our children and grandchildren.

Quote: "The squeeze on the federal budget will begin as the baby boom generation starts to retire. Actions taken today can ease both those pressures and the pain of future actions."

That's from David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general and head of the Government Accountability Office.

And that quote is from 2003 .

The government has known about this encroaching calamity even for years before that -- and next to nothing has been done.

Economists sounded similar calls of alarm in 2005, and were greeted by this response from now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

"(T)he so-called Social Security crisis exists in only one place: the minds of the Republicans." According to Reid's tea leaves, "Social Security continues to be strong and remains on solid ground for decades to come."

What a stunning lack of prescience. That quote could rank up there with the words from renowned economist John Maynard Keynes: "We will not have any more crashes in our time." He said that two years before the stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression.

Before you write off these warnings of danger to partisan finger-pointing, know that Walker was a Clinton appointee. And to Walker's credit, he spent the last part of his term as comptroller general, under a Republican president, traveling the country giving presentations about the unsustainability of America's fiscal habits.

The same formula that helped bring down the Roman Empire, Walker has said, is shaping up to bring down America.

The longer action is put off, the more severe -- and costly -- the solution becomes.

And the solution certainly won't be arrived at through the drunken-sailor spending slated for the federal government's foreseeable future.

Our lawmakers should not allow this country to careen into disastrous insolvency.

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Riverman1
84130
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Riverman1 05/17/09 - 04:28 am
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In the face of these real

In the face of these real budget problems with social security and medicare, what does our illustrious administration intend to do...universal health care....within 10 weeks. Yeah, buddy. This is so absurd it is rounding the bend to funnyland.

wizzardx1
0
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wizzardx1 05/17/09 - 04:32 am
0
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Don't worry, be happy. All is

Don't worry, be happy. All is well-hussien has EVERYTHING under control.The economy is doing great,the troops are coming home,and a chicken in EVERY pot.

justus4
101
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justus4 05/17/09 - 04:39 am
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Of course this coming
Unpublished

Of course this coming disaster represents the failure of our elected representatives to make the hard choices, but what about the solutions? Get rid of Social Security maybe? Change how benefits are determined? The facts are clear: Whatever political party in power from 2016-2020, will address this issue head-on. Otherwise, its a matter of whose numbers U believe or whom is lying more. The article quotes Reid, a democrat, but many republicans have made similar statements and that is the problem. One side trying to gain some advantage while Medicare & Soc Sec recipients (who are (Ds) and (Rs)) will suffer because of their government's lack of fiscal responsibility. A great country, eh?

overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/17/09 - 06:02 am
0
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One of the solutions is to

One of the solutions is to immediately stop non-citizens from receiving payments. They never should have been started in the first place.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 05/17/09 - 06:34 am
0
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Privatizing Social Security

Privatizing Social Security and allowing new enrollees to invest part of their withholdings in the stock market proved not to be such a wise idea. Waging endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan which have cost $1 trillion in up front expenses and will cost much as $7 trillion over the next 20 years has also proven not to be a good investment. Greed, waste, fraud, lack of effective regulation, lax oversight, and unnecessary wars of choice in a bogus war on terror have damaged American power, American leadership, American credibility, and the American economy. We are headed toward second world status like many previously great empires that overextended their power in misguided foreign military adventures. Peace is a prerequisite for prosperity. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

_SisterAbdullahX_
3
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_SisterAbdullahX_ 05/17/09 - 06:51 am
0
0
"Waging endless wars in Iraq,

"Waging endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan which have cost $1 trillion in up front expenses and will cost much as $7 trillion over the next 20 years has also proven not to be a good investment." Whether you believe it or not, it kept you and many others save.......what was the return on the $1 trillion in stimulus? NOTHING but more debt. Oh yeah...we saved Chrysler, right?

Ga Values
27
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Ga Values 05/17/09 - 07:03 am
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Both of our Socialist

Both of our Socialist Senators continue to make earmarks. Saxby SPECIAL INTEREST Chambliss put in a $10,000,000.00 earmark for a privetly held start up company it the current budget. With Saxby it's LOBBYIST first taxpayer last. Write BOTH of our SOCIALLIST Senators and tell them to take the NO EARMARK PLEDGE, 6 of our congressmen have taken the pledge.

_SisterAbdullahX_
3
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_SisterAbdullahX_ 05/17/09 - 07:16 am
0
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We have met the enemy, and he

We have met the enemy, and he is Cain. Good thing he's a pacifist sissy.

Rhetor
1011
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Rhetor 05/17/09 - 07:27 am
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Actually, these programs were

Actually, these programs were not in bad shape until the Bush administration "borrowed" money from them to pay for the war in Iraq.

_SisterAbdullahX_
3
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_SisterAbdullahX_ 05/17/09 - 07:29 am
0
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That's right....it's all

That's right....it's all Bush's fault......everything is. Always is....Always will be.

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/17/09 - 07:34 am
0
0
The most dangerous thing that

The most dangerous thing that can happen to this country is to forget 9/11. Unfortunately America has a very short memory. The post by Cain is strong evidence of that short attention span.
The post by WHarpine is far too inane to even merit a response.

iknowitwheniseeit
1
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iknowitwheniseeit 05/17/09 - 07:35 am
0
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We have met the enemy and he

We have met the enemy and he is the Chronicle and the rest of the Kool-Aide drinkers who promote the nasty, partisan politics that put this country in gridlock. And by the way, the Social Security and Medicare funding issues have been acknowledged by every administration for the last 25 years!

iknowitwheniseeit
1
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iknowitwheniseeit 05/17/09 - 07:38 am
0
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Americafirst - the Bush

Americafirst - the Bush administration tortured 200 terrorists for 5 years and couldn't come up with a link between Iraq and 911. Think about it...

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/17/09 - 07:43 am
0
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We have not had a terrorist

We have not had a terrorist attack on American soil in the last 8 years, iknowitwheniseeit. Think about that. And just who is it that is promoting the nasty partisan politics. Don't look in the mirror cause you might find out who.

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/17/09 - 07:46 am
0
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One good thing (and perhaps

One good thing (and perhaps the only good thing) I can say about Obama is that he recognizes the dangers and the harm that can come to this country from partisan witch hunts and politically motivated prosecutions so desired by the left wing wackos. Pelosi is beginning to find out.

Grasshopper
7
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Grasshopper 05/17/09 - 07:47 am
0
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The two party system failed

The two party system failed economics 101, every time some one did speak out about social security, the TV adds would have a grandmother, talking about how she will not be able to make it if such and such was elected. I remember the ads poor grandmas. Soon when the hospitals stop taking medicare that will be a Crisis for the grandmothers. CAIN I don't understand why do liberals want the rest of the world to love us? Who cares if the Europeans are Jealous. The Muslim nations will never love is unless we become Muslim. Liberals quite being appeasers, this is how we end up in World Wars. The French brought over the Islamics to pay for their retirement, built the projects for them to live in outside their cities. Look what is happening to the French now. If the French are so tolerant, then why do they treat the Muslims as second class citizens?

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/17/09 - 07:54 am
0
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You know, the big difference

You know, the big difference between justus4 and Cain is that on a rare moment of non-racist thought, justus makes a good post. (Cain seems always to be mental) Today is one of those. The biggest problem with SS is that people that have never paid into it are receiving benefits. This was never meant to be a "government sponsored retirement benefit". It was set up to be a "government required retirement benefit". A pool you were required to save into so there wouldn't be a need for the "government sponsored retirement". Instead politicians have used the fund to support ENORMOUS social programs to the detriment of our country. Bush was slapped down by members of both parties when he tried to save SS. Obama intends to save it by instituting trillions more in budget spending. I like Obama's idea. Apparently most voters need to be driven to their knees to realize some intelligent change needs to be made. Obama is doing just that.

iknowitwheniseeit
1
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iknowitwheniseeit 05/17/09 - 07:56 am
0
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Americafirst - There are a

Americafirst - There are a lot a reasons for the lack of attacks on the US but I think we all know that Afganistan was/is the right target. If I want to see nasty dialogue all I need to do is turn on FOX/Sean Hannity or listen Rush Limbaugh. Seriously - do you really want Rush representing your party!!!

Bizkit
31529
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Bizkit 05/17/09 - 08:03 am
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Cain is correct. Americans,

Cain is correct. Americans, mostly you fundamentalist christians, believe you are the center of the universe and this country is better than any other. Fantasy. My how the mighty have fallen and the debt from the war in Iraq has contributed to our economic woes. Do you deny that? Congress has failed to act on SS for decades but now with Obama we have a strong president who hopefully can force their hand to deal with it. But we are already spending more than we generate so why the rush to fix it now with massive spending taking place placing us further in debt. There is no way to prove that Bush's actions had anything to do with keeping America safe. Hopefully a "Truth" commission will weed out the bad Rep and Dem responsible for the war (you can bet Pelosi is guilty too). Most people don't save for retirement (too Stupid) so the government has to take action and provide for the people. With so many needlessly dying in that war I hope this will be treated as death penalty or the minimum life imprisonment.

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/17/09 - 08:04 am
0
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Not particularily,

Not particularily, iknowitwheniseeit. Do u want Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman representing yours. Have u ever watched those two hatemongers. Two hours every night of still bush-bashing. You can feel the hate and the desire to hurt and punish those that disagree with them. But we digress.

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/17/09 - 08:05 am
0
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PT: your sarcasm is

PT: your sarcasm is paticularily sharp this morning. I like it.

Grasshopper
7
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Grasshopper 05/17/09 - 08:17 am
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Marathon Girl I am surprised

Marathon Girl I am surprised at your post. War is just the brute mentality of men and is natures way to cull the weak, evolution at work. What about the people who didn't save, is this not evolution at work? Shouldn't we let evolution starve those who are not smart enough to save for retirement or health care? I am just going by your post from yesterday and the philosophy you speak. Did you not say the weak shall die? Didn't you say we were equal to animals, I never seen a polar bear share a meal with a see lion or raise a penguin. Please Girl be consistent with your post.

Grasshopper
7
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Grasshopper 05/17/09 - 08:24 am
0
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ITDoc. What?? The point is

ITDoc. What?? The point is people are starving and dying because it is nature and it controls the population. Manmade global warming is natures way to eliminate people and the problem. I have equal compassion for the humans as I do the polar bears all animals being equal, but it is natures way and helps life evolve to the changing planet. I'm not alarmed nature will work it out. I figured the religious nutjobs would post as much nonsense. Wasn't Jesus a socialist?
Posted by MarathonGirl on Sat May 16, 2009 10:39 AM

Bizkit
31529
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Bizkit 05/17/09 - 08:28 am
0
0
New social heirarchies, more

New social heirarchies, more like insects, will allow humans to evolve to a better place. Religions tried to do make people socialist and failed so let government have a try. What can it hurt? I was speaking of a catastrophic struggle for survival not just daily events. Daily events are we not our brother's keeper. But in the struggle to survive, then kill your brother. We do it naturally. Humans are violent and war but my hope is man will evolve past this violence, but we may have to use violence to gain the peace.

Grasshopper
7
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Grasshopper 05/17/09 - 08:28 am
0
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The world population of human

The world population of human beings is beyond capacity so nature will eliminate the problem. It is ecology. When rabbits become plentiful then redtailed hawks flourish till fewer rabbits then hawks decline. Every continent needs to lose at least half the population. Obviously the solution to "manmade" global warming is limiting man but people don't want to talk about it. Seems obvious that we may have to sacrifice some so the species can continue to exist. Other species are dying so it is time we make some sacrifices too for equalities sake. I know all you religious fanatics hold man is the center of universe and holds some special place on earth but science tells us we are just another animal and no different, better, or special than any other animal.
Posted by MarathonGirl on Sat May 16, 2009 9:23 AM

Grasshopper
7
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Grasshopper 05/17/09 - 08:31 am
0
0
Every continent need to lose

Every continent need to lose half its population? Girl you don't care for humanity so why are you posting about the welfare of the weak.

Bizkit
31529
Points
Bizkit 05/17/09 - 08:32 am
0
0
War, disease, famine have and

War, disease, famine have and will always control a population. I stand by those post milton the creeper. Do you not agree that war, disease, and famine are our history? But we humans may evolve to beat mother nature, at least that is what all science has been doing making people live longer, curing diseases, growing food for famine, etc. I'm completely consistent with what is fact and then what is my belief. Obviously you lack the mental faculties to distinquish between the two.

Bizkit
31529
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Bizkit 05/17/09 - 08:34 am
0
0
I care about humanity but

I care about humanity but nature has other plans. Why waste an emotion on what is inevitable-like we will all die. You live in religious la la land. There is a difference between reality and fantasy. The solution to global warming is less people. That is the most direct approach.

americafirst
966
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americafirst 05/17/09 - 08:40 am
0
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Hey marathongirl. Why don't

Hey marathongirl. Why don't we just select 50% of the population that we deem the least desirable or least productive and line them up and shoot them. That would be quicker and save Earth sooner. Problem solved and controversy over.

NoPartyFan
2
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NoPartyFan 05/17/09 - 08:41 am
0
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I know this is probably not a

I know this is probably not a do-able task, probably too risky, and may not even be that good of an idea. I would like see some analysis for the restructuring of Wall Street into a collection of regional & state markets. Much of the business of Wall Street deals with raising capital, borrowing through the repo window, merging businesses, buying debt and repackaging it. Too highly leveraged financial mechanisms have put the whole economy, 401K and pension plans at risk. Too few people in New York City are making the deals and keeping the bulk of money made. That's assuming they make money. Quite a lot of the money used by Wall Street is from the super rich but there is also a lot of money that is being sucked out of the rest of the country via insurance payments and money collected by banks. The daily frantic buying and selling is blind to what is happening in the rest of the country related to impacts of the deals, jobs, etc. Too much financial off-shoring. Regulation would be tougher and money would be more diluted but it could also be geared toward keeping money in the states. We have regional commodities, banks, insurance, health care, manufacturing and service industry.

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