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article imageOp-Ed: Fix Social Security shortfall by transferring funds from defense

By Calvin Wolf     Aug 4, 2014 in Politics
The new annual report from the Social Security and Medicare boards of trustees has a dire prediction for the future of Social Security. Most dire is the prediction that Social Security Disability Insurance will run out of funds by late 2016.
It's not news that the U.S. federal government has a spending program. We like our military, our higher education, our Social Security, and our Medicare and Medicaid. We like government services but not paying for them. This truism is bad news for Congress in figuring out what to do regarding Social Security and Medicare. According to CBS News, the Social Security and Medicare boards of trustees have reported a dire future for those programs: By the 2030s these programs will be depleted of funds, forcing a significant reduction in payments to recipients.
In terms of political necessity, the Social Security Disability Insurance fund is expected to be depleted by late 2016, just in time for the presidential election. Other funds will start to run dry later, eventually forcing a reduction in payments across the board. Both parties need to develop a game plan for addressing the issue. Obviously, allowing reduced payments will be akin to political suicide - neither party can afford to shrug its shoulders at the problem.
So, what can be done? To maintain full funding, the government must either increase taxes or shift funding from other programs. Increasing taxes will be unpopular, particularly for whomever receives that additional tax burden, be it businesses, consumers, homeowners, etc. Shifting funds from other federal programs will be less upsetting, meaning that this is the more viable option.
The funds should come from defense spending, which has long been excessive. Despite the Great Recession and its aftermath, even as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down, the United States spends an exorbitant amount on its military. This spending is often inefficient, with a look at the F-35 debacle reminding us just how much money can be spent on fancy weapons for little return. As we leave Afghanistan at the end of this year, can we continue to justify our military spending even as Social Security runs dry?
With border security an issue, why not station more U.S. troops at home? We continue to station thousands of troops overseas but show little intent of using them - crises in Syria, Iraq, and the Ukraine have all met with firm assertions of "no troops on the ground" from the White House. Why do we taxpayers pay hand over fist for a massive military that will not be used?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Social security, Government spending, Federal spending, Federal budget, 2016 presidential election
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