Social Security and Medicare

Save and Protect Social Security and Medicare

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Protect benefits for current and soon-to-be seniors
  • Save programs for future retirees
  • Address nation’s fiscal and jobs crises

Our critically important and popular Social Security and Medicare programs must be saved and protected.

For decades, millions of senior citizens have paid taxes into these programs to ensure they will have basic retirement and health care security during their later years.

Americans are living longer and health care costs continue to rise. Today, $15 trillion more is owed to millions of current and future Social Security recipients than there is money available to pay those retirement benefits. Another $36 trillion shortfall is owed to millions of seniors or soon-to-be seniors receiving Medicare benefits.

In addition to these huge long-term unfunded liabilities, annual spending on Social Security and Medicare benefits consume 36% of all federal government outlays. Over the next ten years, spending on Social Security and Medicare is projected to grow by 72% and 104%, respectively.

The good news is that we CAN keep the retirement and health care promises made to our senior citizens; save Social Security and Medicare for future generations; and still address our nation’s fiscal and jobs crises.

There should be no change to the expected benefits received by our retirees or soon-to-be seniors. However, adjustments to the programs must be made for future generations if those benefits are to be there when needed.

As Maine State Treasurer, I helped lead the successful effort to solve a similar problem in Augusta.

For many years, career politicians promised retirement benefits to our teachers and state employees without setting aside enough money to pay for them. By 2010, this fiscal recklessness combined with the 2008 stock market collapse created a staggering $4.3 billion shortfall in those promised benefits. The annual payments by Maine taxpayers to make up this huge shortfall and fund ongoing pension benefits were swamping our state budget. These pension contributions consumed one-seventh of all state government spending, and were projected to reach one-fourth of the entire annual budget. Increasingly, the spiking pension payments were crowding out our ability to adequately fund public education, road and bridge repair, public safety, and other vital services.

It took strong leadership and hard work to better secure the retirement benefits for Maine teachers and state employees while addressing the State’s fiscal crisis. As shown below, $1.7 billion of the pension debt was eliminated which reduced future spending by $150-275 million per year until the debt is scheduled to be paid off in 2028. That, in turn, allowed the largest income tax cut in Maine history. All the while, the pension checks to retirees kept flowing.

I was honored to help solve one of Maine’s most serious financial problems that had been growing for years.

Eliminate 1.7 Billion of pension debt

I understand the looming Social Security and Medicare crises. We must save these programs for millions of American seniors who depend on those pension and health care benefits, including my own parents.

While in Congress, I will help lead the initiative to provide more retirement security to our 2nd District seniors while tackling this critical part of our nation’s fiscal crisis.