WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Social Security benefits could see cuts as early as 2035 and Medicare by 2026 if Congress doesn’t take bold action soon.
An annual federal report shows the reserves supporting the program will soon be depleted. In less than two decades, the report says, the country’s most popular and vital programs for aging Americans will be unable to pay out full benefits. That will leave roughly 60 million people at risk.
“We just need to act now instead of waiting,” Rachel Greszler of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said.
Her group says Congress needs to reform the entire system before millions of retirement checks are slashed. It suggested lawmakers raise the retirement age and reduce taxes, arguing younger workers could save their own money rather than rely on Social Security.
“There will have to be sacrifices,” Greszler said. “There’s no way to cover this huge shortfall without anyone giving something up.”
Taking a similar stance, the Trump administration has proposed shaving $818 billion from Medicare spending and cutting $36 million in Social Security and disability programs over the next decade.
But Nancy Altmen, the president of advocacy group Social Security Works, said that’s not necessary.
“We are the wealthiest country in the world at the wealthiest moment in our history,” she said. “We can afford to expand Social Security and we must have Medicare for all.”
She’s backing a Democrat-led plan that would force workers making $400,000 or more to contribute more to the fund. That plan would also gradually raise taxes across the board for everyone.
“It ensures that all benefits can be paid through the 21st century,” Altmen said.
The proposal doesn’t have any Republican support, but is on track to pass the U.S. House of Representatives.
Social Security will likely be a key issue in the 2020 presidential race.