It's been said too many times without being heard: Medicare and Social Security, our country's entitlement programs, are quickly dying. Without immediate action by Congress these programs will go belly-up in the next few decades, leaving millions of Americans without the Social Security and Medicare benefits they earned through years of hard work. I firmly believe that deliberate refusal to address the entitlement crisis our country is facing is irresponsible.
According to reports made in 2009, the Social Security fund will be depleted by 2037, and the Medicare fund will face the same fate in 2017. And the Congressional Budget Office recently reported that Medicare and Medicaid spending is projected to rise an average of about 7 percent a year between 2011 and 2020. Gross spending for Medicare will total $528 billion in 2010 and more than $1 trillion by 2020. And Social Security spending will grow 6 percent a year through 2020. In the next 30 years, three entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - will consume 20 percent of the nation's economy. That is equivalent to the cost of the entire federal government today, and it will take twice the current rate of taxes just to maintain the current level of entitlement benefits.
I understand the importance of continuing to support these programs. However, in order to do this, we must maintain a fiscally responsible government and pass fiscally responsible healthcare legislation. For instance, I have oppossed the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which would take money away from seniors to pay for a government takeover in healthcare. I cannot support a healthcare plan that that would throw money at the problems, create a government-run system that would encourage waste, fraud, abuse, and limit health care access.
I also supported H.R. 3631, which would prevent any Medicare beneficiary from receiving a Part B premium increase in 2010 in light of the fact that seniors did not receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their Social Security benefits this year.
Retiree benefits are primarily paid out from annual tax receipts levied under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). While the program is currently running surpluses, as the number of taxable contributors becomes surpassed by the number of recipients, annual taxes will no longer be able to cover Social Security's expenses and its trust funds will have to be accessed to cover the shortfalls. That is why I support issues such as the Social Security Preservation Act, which would ensure that the annual surplus of the Social Security Trust Fund be invested in marketable interest-bearing obligations of the United States or certificates of deposit in insured depository institutions. I support the intentions of this bill and will work with my colleagues to ensure that additional social security funds are being used in a beneficial way for Americans.
I believe Congress has an opportunity to undertake meaningful reform that will help our entitlement programs fulfill their missions for the long haul. The fate of these programs will be directly tied to the action-or lack thereof-we take on these issues. I believe American workers and their families have waited too long and worked too hard to pay into these programs for their government to ignore this coming storm. I believe Congress has a responsibility to address this problem today. I pledge to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to reform Medicare and Social Security to make sure they are around for our children and grandchildren.