Mr. President, Shouldn't Health Care Come First?
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23 years is a long time -- almost a quarter century. It's also the gap between when Medicare will face some budget problems and when Social Security will face some budget problems:
Social Security still runs a surplus, and its reserves will not be exhausted until 2041, after which enough payroll taxes will come in to cover 78 percent of benefits, according to the 2008 annual report of the program trustees. Medicare, by contrast, requires big infusions from general revenues each year; its hospital trust fund is already running annual deficits and will be exhausted by 2019.
Knowing this chronology, knowing that 45 million Americans also don't have health insurance, knowing President Obama campaigned on a promise to pass universal health care and not cut Social Security, it seems strange that President Obama is adamant about focusing the debate over entitlement reform even partially on Social Security and not on universal health care, which (if done right) could save lots of money.