During a speech today on the floor of the Senate, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called attention to the federal government’s unsustainable fiscal outlook and noted that a Congressional Budget Office report released this week on the long-term budget outlook projected that our surging federal debt is putting the nation at risk of a “fiscal crisis.”
“The federal government is swimming in a sea of red ink that threatens to drown America’s future generations,” Enzi said. “If current laws don’t change, debt as a percentage of GDP will soar to unprecedented levels over the next 30 years. In most of our nation’s history, we have only seen periods of high spending and debt during wars and other emergencies, and the increase has been temporary. But the fiscal situation today is much different.”
For decades budget analysts have warned of the fiscal pressures that the nation would face as Baby Boomers aged and began to retire. Today, more than 10,000 people per day turn 65 years of age, and in the next few years that number will rise to more than 11,000. Over the next ten years, CBO projects that Social Security spending will total $14.4 trillion, but the program’s dedicated tax revenues will cover only $11.8 trillion.
CBO projects that under current law, Social Security’s combined trust funds would be exhausted in 2032 – three years earlier than the Social Security Trustees estimated. Total Medicare spending will amount to $11.5 trillion over the next 10 years, but the program will collect less than $6 trillion in dedicated taxes and premiums. CBO and the Medicare Trustees both project Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which covers inpatient hospital services, hospice care, skilled nursing facilities, and home health services, would be depleted in 2026.
“Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, and in this case, the opposite is true. The longer we wait to address this imbalance, the more severe the changes will need to be,” Enzi said. “We need to change the way we do things around here. Too often we wait to make the difficult decisions that everyone knows have to be made until we have a crisis on our hands. These issues are too important to ignore, and we are going to need to work together if we are to put our country on a more sustainable fiscal course. We owe it to future generations to try.”