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Key Facts on the Medicare Trustees Report

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National Economic Council


March 30, 2000

Today, the Social Security Trustees reported that the projected life of the Social Security trust funds have been extended until 2037 – 3 years longer than projected in last year's report. These improvements are due in large part to President Clinton's strategy of fiscal discipline which has helped create the conditions for the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Even with this good news, the report underscores the major challenges facing the Social Security program. The President has a proposed a specific plan to make a down payment on addressing these challenges, extending the life of Social Security to at least 2054, while paying down the debt held by the public by 2013.

  • The Annual Report of the Social Security Trustees Shows an Improvement in the Long-run Financial Status of the Program over the Past Year. Under the new projections, the Social Security trust funds will not be exhausted until 2037, 3 years later than projected in last year's report. Another key measure of the long-run health of Social Security – the actuarial deficit as a share of taxable payroll – improved from 2.07 percent to 1.89 percent. These improvements are due in part to the strength of our economy to which President Clinton's strategy of fiscal discipline has contributed.
  • The Trustees Report Underscores the Long-run Challenges Facing Social Security. As the baby boomers retire and life expectancies continue to rise, the new report projects that the number of people age 65 or older will double – from 35 million in 1999 to 71 million in 2035. In 1960, there were 5.1 covered workers for every Social Security beneficiary. In 1999 there were only 3.4 workers for every beneficiary. And by 2035, there are projected to be only 2.1 workers for every beneficiary. This is further evidence that we must act now to make certain that Social Security is as strong for our children as it has been for our parents.
  • The President Has a Fiscally Responsible Plan To Use the Benefits of Debt Reduction to Extend the Life of Social Security Until at Least 2054. The President would ensure that the benefits of the debt reduction that are due to Social Security are used to extend the life of Social Security through his two-part proposal:
  • The President proposes to lock away all of the Social Security surplus, a step that would pay down debt and prepare the government, and the Nation, for the retirement of the baby boom generation.
  • After a decade of debt reduction because of the Social Security surpluses, the President's plan bases transfers on the interest savings resulting from this debt reduction to the Social Security trust fund. These fiscally prudent steps will pay down the government debt by 2013 and extend the solvency of the Social Security trust fund until at least 2054.
  • In Contrast, the Republican Budget Would Not Add a Single Day to the Life of Social Security. The Republican so-called "Safe Deposit Box" for Social Security surpluses would not extend the life of Social Security by even one single day. In fact, the unrealistic Republican budget plan threatens to break their "Safe Deposit Box" for Social Security surpluses.

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