President Bush has chosen the wrong issue with his all-out blitz to convince Americans that Social Security is broken and urgently in need of a fix. Instead, he should be focusing with the same zeal on something that actually is broken – America’s health care system.
Sure, bringing long-term solvency to Social Security is an essential goal. It must be done. And there may, indeed, be a place in an overhauled system for private investment accounts. But adding that dimension to Social Security is not critical to the program’s future.
On the other hand, look what’s happening with Medicaid and Medicare. As the nation’s governor’s meeting in Washington earlier this month expressed, Medicaid is a budget-breaking program for states. It now tops education as the largest draw on state budgets. And Medicare’s potential shortage over the next 75 years is projected to be seven times larger than the $3.7 trillion shortfall facing Social Security.
By 2024, Medicare is expected to supplant Social Security as Uncle Sam’s single largest program. In KSL’s view, somehow bringing stability to a health care system that is out of control and reining in Medicaid and Medicare – not revamping Social Security – seems a much more urgent area of focus for the President and the members of Congress.