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EDITORIAL: Nudged toward insolvency

According to the White House spin team, President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill — passed by House Democrats last week — will “set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

Not surprisingly, the administration doesn’t mention how the bill will mushroom the national debt and encourage government dependency — which will harm older and disabled Americans in particular.

As Drew Gonshorowski and Rachel Greszler of the Daily Signal reported last week, the Build Back Better bill will create new entitlement programs for taxpayer-funded child care and paid family leave but won’t improve longstanding entitlement obligations and will actually exacerbate their shortfalls.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Security is currently strapped with $19.8 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The system is on track to run out of funds to pay recipients their promised benefits beginning in 2034, leaving recipients with potential benefit cuts of around 22 percent.

As the Daily Signal highlights, Mr. Biden’s plan would raise future deficits and debt, as well as enhance welfare-without-work policies and beef up the regulatory and administrative state. This could significantly reduce employment, leading to fewer contributions to Social Security and a quicker depletion of the system’s already-eroding trust fund.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that the nation would see a 6.2 million decline in full-time employment, thanks to the administration’s progressive spending binge, leading to a projected loss of $25 billion in payroll tax revenues in 2022 and $289 billion in lost revenues between 2022 and 2031. This loss would exhaust the Social Security trust fund three months earlier than expected. It would also mean more extreme cuts to Social Security and disability programs of up to 26 percent.

That translates to $750 per year less in Social Security benefits for the average retiree.

Instead of siphoning more money from taxpayers to give families billions in new handouts, America’s first priority should be to address the structural deficiencies that plague the nation’s current entitlement programs. Any such reforms must not lower benefits for those at or nearing retirement age and should be implemented with the goal of making it easier for wage earners to keep more of their own money before they even reach retirement age.

Mr. Biden’s plan does the opposite and will only push the nation — and programs such as Social Security and Medicare — closer to bankruptcy.

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