Before too much more time goes by, let's remind ourselves once again just how out of touch Sen. Harry Reid is on government spending.
He still maintains that there's nothing wrong with Social Security funding; it's a perfect system that has worked well and will work well into the foreseeable future. Nothing to fix here, he says.
The scary thing about Harry is that he might just believe it. The head of the U.S. Senate has become so delusional on the bigger problem of government spending that he has actually convinced himself that Social Security doesn't need any help.
For a dose of reality, one need only turn to the latest report from the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees. On Social Security the report says:
"Social Security expenditures are expected to exceed tax receipts this year for the first time since 1983. The projected deficit of $41 billion this year (excluding interest income) is attributable to the recession and to an expected $25 billion downward adjustment to 2010 income that corrects for excess payroll tax revenue credited to the trust funds in earlier years. This deficit is expected to shrink substantially for 2011 and to return to small surpluses for years 2012-2014 due to the improving economy. After 2014 deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation’s retirement causes the number of beneficiaries to grow substantially more rapidly than the number of covered workers. The annual deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets in amounts less than interest earnings through 2024, and then by redeeming trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037, at which point tax income would be sufficient to pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits through 2084. The projected exhaustion date for the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds is unchanged from last year’s report.
"The long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and those that remain for Medicare should be addressed soon. If action is taken sooner rather than later, more options will be available and more time will be available to phase in changes so that those affected have adequate time to prepare."
Here's the transcript from "Meet the Press" in which Sen. Reid whistles his happy (but dangerous) tune on Social Security. Please especially note the "are-you-kidding-me" tone of the responses from host David Gregory --
MR. GREGORY: Social Security, how does it have to change? What they put on the agenda is raising the retirement age, maybe means testing benefits. Is it time for Social Security to fundamentally change if you're going to deal with the debt problem?
SEN. REID: One of the things that always troubles me is, when we start talking about the debt, the first thing people do is run to Social Security. Social Security is a program that works, and it's going to be -- it's fully funded for the next 40 years. Stop picking on Social Security. There are a lot places we can go to ...
MR. GREGORY: Senator, you're really saying the arithmetic on Social Security works?
SEN. REID: I'm saying the arithmetic on Social Security works. I have no doubt it does. For the next ...
MR. GREGORY: It's not in crisis?
SEN. REID: No, it's not in crisis. This is, this is, this is something that's perpetuated by people who don't like government. Social Security is fine. Are there things we can do to improve Social Security? Of course. But don't, don't ...
MR. GREGORY: Means testing? Raising the retirement age?
SEN. REID: ... don't -- I'm ...
MR. GREGORY: Do you agree with either of those?
SEN. REID: I'm not going to go to any of those back-door methods to whack Social Security recipients. I'm not going to do that. We have a lot of things we can do with this debt that's a problem. But one of the places where I'm not going to be part of picking on is Social Security.