WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) is again ringing the alarm bell about the unsustainable of both Social Security and Medicare.
During this week’s conference call with regional media, Reed pointed to the most recent report from the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare, saying that if things stay on their present course Medicare funds will be depleted by 2026 and Social Security will be insolvent by 2034.
Reed, who’s been a proponent of reforming both programs since first taking office in 2010, said that the time to act on changing the program is now.
“I think there is ample common ground in regards to issues that we could agree upon in order to stabalize and reform Social Security and Medicare to make sure that they are here for generations to come and that is also something that I noted from the trustees’ report. The advice from the trustees is that we must act soon rather than wait until the last minute,” Reed said.
Reed said he would be in favor discussing of several reform proposals, including raising or eliminating the payroll tax cap on Medicare, upping the age eligibility for both social security and Medicare, and changing the way Medicare funds are given out by shifting from a fees-for-service model to a value based model.
In addition to the reforms that Reed mentioned, Republicans on the House budget committee have put forward a 2019 budget proposal that would cut spending for entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security.
WRFA asked Reed if his latest push to reform the two programs was tied to the proposed budget he’ll be voting in the future.
“The budget has some proposals in it, from my understanding of looking at what came out of the committee, though it hasn’t come to the floor yet,” Reed said. “But bottom line: if folks want to deny the existence of the problem that the insolvency of Social Security and Medicare represent, that’s there choice. But I’m willing to accept what I think is a foregone conclusion that if we do nothing, Social Security and Medicare will collapse and it will be devastating for millions of Americans that are caught in that situation.”
The House Republican budget, titled “A Brighter American Future,” proposes to squeeze $537 billion out of Medicare over the next decade. To offset the loss in revenue, a series of reforms are being proposed that some fear would lead to fewer people having access to Medicare money and as a result being saddled with debt.
Social Security comes in for more modest cuts of $4 billion over the decade, which the budget projects could be reached by eliminating concurrent receipt of unemployment benefits and Social Security disability insurance.
It’s not clear if the budget proposal will come to the House floor for a full vote before the midterm elections.
Meanwhile, by calling for the reform of both Social Security and Medicare, Reed is making himself a target in the upcoming general election because its considered controversial anytime a politician calls for changing the programs, especially in a district where many constituents rely on the programs’ services.
Reed said that many in Congress won’t discuss the two programs because they are too concerned about how it might impact their re-election bids, but he feels the issue is too important to ignore and wants to work toward a solution to what he says is a major problem facing the country.