During a speech on the floor of the Senate, Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., today continued to raise alarm bells that America’s current fiscal course is unsustainable. Enzi noted that in the first 11 months of the fiscal year, federal revenue increased by 3 percent compared to the same period last year, while spending increased by 7 percent.
“The threat of a fiscal crisis is not something anyone should take lightly. As a father and grandfather, this is a concern that keeps me up at night,” said Enzi. “What kind of burden are we placing on our children and grandchildren, who could face a future of less growth and economic opportunity, as a result of our refusal to make difficult fiscal decisions? Congress should be working together with the Administration now to begin the long process of a fiscal course correction.”
Enzi noted that the Congressional Budget Office projects that America’s debt will continue to increase rapidly over the next several decades as mandatory spending – particularly Social Security and major health care programs – and interest payments permanently grow faster than federal revenues. The combination of an aging population, longer lifespans and rising per beneficiary health care costs puts enormous pressure on our budget.
A recent report stated that Social Security’s combined trust funds will be exhausted in 2032 and Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund, which covers inpatient hospital services, hospice care, skilled nursing facilities and home health services, is projected to be depleted in 2026. Once their respective trust funds are exhausted, these programs will only be able to pay out as much in benefits as they have coming in. For Medicare that means only being able to pay 86 percent of hospital-related Medicare spending. For Social Security, revenue is projected to cover only 76 percent of scheduled benefits.
“I want to make sure Social Security and Medicare are able to provide benefits to current beneficiaries, as well as those who will need these programs in the future,” Enzi said. “That will require being clear-eyed about the problem and working together in a bipartisan manner to ensure these programs are solvent. The longer we wait to address the imbalance, the more severe the changes will need to be and the fewer options we will have. We need to change the way we do things in Washington. We simply cannot afford to continue ignoring the challenges we as a country face.”