·  by Amaya Tune, 202-637-5018   ·  AFL-CIO

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka on Reports by Social Security & Medicare Trustees

Today’s reports by the Social Security and Medicare trustees bring good news for both programs.  The reports are a needed comeuppance to right wing ideological opponents of Social Security and Medicare who, year after year, twist the facts to undermine confidence in these essential programs, hoping that this will lessen public resistance to their wildly unpopular agenda of benefit cuts, privatization, and vouchers.

The report by the Medicare Board of Trustees shows that the recently enacted health care reform legislation will significantly slow Medicare cost growth, extending the life of Medicare’s trust fund for 12 years, reducing Part B premiums and reducing the federal deficit.

The report by the Social Security Board of Trustees shows that Social Security’s $2.5 trillion trust fund will continue to grow for another 14 years, and Social Security will continue to be able to pay out full benefits from its own dedicated resources for another 27 years.  The trustees project that after 2037, tax revenue will be sufficient to pay 78 percent of full benefits.  The projected funding shortfall over 75 years is actually lower than in last year’s report.

Taken together, the reports show that Social Security’s promised benefits are fully affordable without benefit cuts, and they make a strong case for following through on the groundbreaking cost-saving payment and delivery reforms in the health reform bill. 

In fact, the biggest problem for the long-term financing for Social Security and Medicare is wage and employment stagnation, and urgent measures to solve these problems should be front and center in our policy debate. 

But ultimately the greatest threat to Social Security and Medicare is politicians who rely on fear-mongering to prop up an agenda that undermines working people.  The AFL-CIO strongly opposes and will fight against any proposal that diminishes Social Security benefits in any way, including proposals to cut benefits by raising the retirement age.

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