Missing from the president’s State of the Union address last week was any mention of federal entitlement programs and their looming fiscal collapse.
Donald Trump has shown little interest in tackling the subject. The Weekly Standard noted that the president hasn’t said the words “Medicare” or “Social Security” in either of his first two addresses to Congress. That’s unfortunate.
The Social Security Trust Fund is scheduled to run into serious financial stress by 2035. The latest report from the program’s trustees reveals unfunded liabilities of more than $34 trillion. Medicare is in even sicker. The program’s unfunded liabilities now sit at $49 trillion.
The major roadblock to reform, of course, is the politics. Progress was elusive even decades back when Republicans and Democrats actually worked together from time to time. Now? Those Democrat attack ads from back in the day featuring a giddy GOP pol dumping granny out of her wheelchair and over a cliff will seem like puppy-dog stuff compared with what progressives would unleash today.
In fact, though, doing nothing and continuing to whistle along represents the cruelest approach. And as Dan Weber argues in a recent commentary, a great many senior citizens understand the perils of inaction.
“Mature Americans are smart enough to understand that the dire risk to our entitlement programs will not only hurt them,” writes Mr. Weber, the president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, “but their children and grandchildren, who depend on their sustainability.”
It’s folly to expect Congress to come together in these hyperpartisan times and tackle such an issue. But that doesn’t mean Republicans and the president should turn a blind eye to reality. A White House that emphasized the importance of reform and the dangers of inertia could help break down resistance and set the stage for a fruitful conversation.