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Author Topic: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?  (Read 3211 times)

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Offline Smokey

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President Bush tried to get the ball rolling on this issue and received ridicule from the Democrats. Now we see he was right and they were wrong but can we work together to fix the problem? What is going to happen if the president and Democrat’s comprehensive immigration giveaway program is passed? What is going to happen when the president signs the Totalization agreement with Mexico which allows illegal aliens to work only 18-months, and then be eligible for social security while living in Mexico and using our money? This is in the agreement and it will not take long before we are broke.

Offline ghost_of_notsniw

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2007, 02:16:36 AM »
How was Bush right about SS and Medicare?

Bush and his rubber stamp Congress passed the worst Medicare fraud bill in the history of mankind and only because of the Democrats was he prevented from trying to ruin Social Security like he did Medicare.

What a crock of BS revisionist history.  The corporate welfare fraud of a Medicare bill Bush and his cronies in Congress pushed through is still being prevented from negotiating drug prices in spite of the fact that EVERY other government agency can.

And you accuse the Democrats, who had zero control of the government or policy of preventing even greater fraud?

I'd say job well done on the Social Security issue, if for no other reason than to prevent Bush from ruining yet another government program.  There is no way the Democrats could have fixed it, but the Corruptlicans had every chance to do so and committed the greatest fraud ever on the US public, lying about the cost and fixing it so their largest corporate donors could rake in our tax dollars unchallenged.

The fallacy that SS is a "pay as you go" system has long been debunked by even the most elementary of intellects.  We all know that the dollars that go in today don't pay for MY retirement, they pay the retirees that are collecting now.  We all know what would happen if Bush tried to tax American citizens to pay for their SS, so he's doing the sneaky thing: getting illegals to pay for it. 


Offline Smokey

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2007, 12:03:36 PM »
Ghost
First of all Bush did try to get the Democrats and Republicans together to fix the Social Security system that has been broken for years. Now do I trust him to fix the system? NO, but there must be a solution including allowing younger people to invest in the stock market.
The prescription system will break this nation because you cannot give away free health care and medicine to us old folks who use it for any little ache and pain we might have. I AM AGAINST IT AND HAVE BEEN SINCE IT STARTED when Bush and FAT TEDDY got it going. I was against Medicare in 1996 and predicted it will break this country.  What I meant is President Bush did try to get a discussion going but it was shut down. This is a fact so where am I wrong? I am totally against giving tax dollars away in a welfare system unless they work for it.

I agree with you when it comes to Bush spending money worst than any president in our history, now what are we going to do about it? NOTHING. The Democrats are in control and most of the Republicans are RINOs and love to spend pork like BOTH parties. Skelton supports pork barrel spending like the rest of Congress and the president.

The Social Security system will be broken as soon as President Bush signs the Totalization agreement with Mexico which has already been signed by the Social Security Administrator in 2004. It will allow all illegal Mexicans to come here, work on someone’s social security number, get credit for it, then head back to Mexico and get a check each month from our system. What are you going to do about it? NOTHING They are going to build a large social security office in Mexico City to care for them.

The corporate welfare fraud of a Medicare bill Bush and his cronies in Congress pushed through Congress will BREAK our system and should have never been passed. You do not give medicine to anyone, we cannot afford it. President Bush is threatening to veto any bill that allows for negotiating drug prices in spite of the fact that EVERY other government agency can. THIS IS A FACT. The Democrats can pass such a bill to allow for negotiations but will the president sign it? NO, AND HE IS WRONG. It should be vetoed. We should have never passed it. We should do away with Medicare and Medicaid. We need to have everyone who is on welfare out picking up trash or doing something to EARN what they get so they do not lose their self-respect. I know of those who right now receive money from social security, welfare, food stamps, etc who can work but will not. LET THEM STARVE if they do not want to work for what they receive.

If I remember correctly, I once read where the social security system created by FDR in 1935 was to have been switched so it was self-supporting through our economic system and was not tax supported. If Democrats and Republicans can make money on Wall Street then why cannot our social security system? It can and should have been switched back in 1960 as proposed by the founder, FDR.

Ghost, now does this clear things up for you?

Offline fish

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2007, 12:31:47 AM »
 what is wrong with people wanting to have more control over their money?? Social security brings an embarrassing return. It is also too generous a program is not able to stay afloat on its own. W is trying to get a discussion and help people have more retirement money. There are still some that believe ss will pay all their bills when they retire. The libs don't want any kind of reform because that would reduce the amount of tax money they have available to spend.

shadylane

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2007, 09:53:26 AM »
Had bush succeeded in putting social security in the stock market when he first tried it would be now bankrupt. Since that didn't work, he is trying to allow Illegal immigrants to do the job for him. Let's face it he hates social security and wants it gone. Its a burden on big business to have it.

Offline 02Tundra

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2007, 03:18:49 PM »
It's broke and we all know it!  Both parties need to get their head out of their forth point of contact and fix it.  A major problem is the "so called" lock box is wide open and has been getting cleaned out for years, so any talk about the lock box is just that--TALK.

Offline Strictly Confidential

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2007, 06:24:33 PM »
There is another way of looking at social security - it was never meant to be a retirement plan ya know - and it was originally began as only a temporary program - it's not a retirement plan folks - if you retire after 2020 and you are banking on that money being there you deserve what you're gonna get...

People need to do their own planning and preparation - Republican or Democrat, that fund has been used, abused and misused practically since inception - it quit being any form of security over 20-years ago. 

Think about it - had average Joe started saving $100.00 a month every month, since news that SS was going broke first came out, would they really be worried about their 'security'?

There are exceptional cases, of course, where Joe Average American has worked hard and tried to save and something bad has happened - those are the people that should be able to look to this fund for assistance in retirement - not existence.....assistance. 
"All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." --Edmund Burke

Offline 02Tundra

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2007, 06:44:05 PM »
Problem is that politicians have been telling people for years that it is a retirement program.  Hell, I have several hundred dollars taken out every pay period.  If I could use that money with the other money I'm saving for retirement I'd be "GOOD TO GO".  As it currently stands we are just throwing our money into the LOCK BOX and the politicians are using it for whatever they want to us it for, right.

Offline Strictly Confidential

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2007, 07:18:48 PM »
^^  I agree with you completely - we know it's a lie that it will be there for us.  Wish we could make our own call on where it ends up...
"All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." --Edmund Burke

Offline ghost_of_notsniw

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2007, 07:23:26 PM »
what is wrong with people wanting to have more control over their money?? Social security brings an embarrassing return. It is also too generous a program is not able to stay afloat on its own. W is trying to get a discussion and help people have more retirement money. There are still some that believe ss will pay all their bills when they retire. The libs don't want any kind of reform because that would reduce the amount of tax money they have available to spend.

Try reading up on the history of why SS was created and get back to us when you learn something.

Offline Smokey

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2007, 08:39:51 PM »
Our federal debt is $9 TRILLION DOLLARS! China owns $400 billion dollars of our debt and still has $1 trillion dollars, cash, in the bank. Does anyone see anything disturbing about this? Politicians from the Democratic, Republican, and Independent parties have for a long, long time placed us in such a spot.

USA TODAY, Dennis Cauchon reported in May 2006, what federal, state and local governments owe in unpaid debt, at least $57.8 trillion —$510,677 per household — for Medicare, Social Security, civil servant health care and other obligations. Medicare's financial situation already is deteriorating. The government's audited financial statement reported that Medicare's unfunded liability raised $2.4 trillion in 2006 to $32.3 trillion.

What will happen if 12-20 million citizens decided not to pay their federal, state, and local taxes? Will it concern government? You bet. Now tell me how in the world does anyone expect us to believe there are far too many illegal aliens in this country to deport? Simple, if they wanted them gone they would be gone. First, arrest employers and throw them in jail, including all of the local Chamber of Commerce members who support illegal immigration. Humiliate them by putting their pictures on the front page of the papers when they are arrested and it will not take much to dry up the jobs and they will head home.

If it is OK to break one or two laws then why not three or four that you do not like? What would happen if we had 12-20 million people going to our local hospitals and never paying their bill just as illegal aliens are already doing with their “free health care?” There are 3 billion people in the world that earn less than $2.00 a day and would love to come here for a better life, better medical care, to work and take care of their families. I would bet they would be willing to work for less money than illegal aliens are already making. Just how many of these folks does the voter want to support with our tax money? Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation recently conducted a study on what it costs taxpayers when someone fails to graduate from high school and receive a diploma. We have read for years how much money an individual loses when they do not graduate from high schools as opposed to the additional amount they would receive if they graduated and went on to college.
What does low-skilled households, those without a high school degree cost Americans? On average, at least $22,449 more in benefits than they pay in taxes each year, low-skill households impose substantial long-term costs on the U.S. taxpayer. You can find his work in, The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer, written by Robert E. Rector, Christine Kim and Shanea Watkins, Ph.D. Multiply $22,449 by the total number of illegal aliens without a degree and you have approximately $2.2 trillion dollars.

Offline ghost_of_notsniw

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2007, 09:51:24 PM »
You have the poorest comprehension of the deficit of anyone I've ever had the displeasure of reading.

Or whoever you copied and pasted from does.

Or both of you.

Either way, not even close.

WBT

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2007, 10:03:24 PM »
LORD
Please grant me the comprehension to understand all the
statements made by Winston.
OR JUST BLIND ME the next time i start to read one of his post.
  %%$%$$#  *****

Offline ghost_of_notsniw

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2007, 10:39:33 PM »
Wow, you ventured from your little hideaway and THIS is the best you could do?

WBT

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2007, 10:54:11 PM »
Wow, you ventured from your little hideaway and THIS is the best you could do?
Sorry Winston.
 But i have not been feeling to well.
 but i will try harder next time.
 this dang cold and meds are slowing down my mental abilitys.
 BUT I WILL TRY HARDER THE NEXT TIME OKAY?

Offline fish

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2007, 12:11:12 AM »
 W wasn't trying to invest ss money in the stock market. One proposal he made was to allow everyone the same access to a thrift savings plan(similar to a 401k) that all federal employees(including members of congress) and military folks have. A certain percentage would be able to be invested BY THE TAX PAYER into a fund of their choosing. It would be voluntary to do this. If someone wanted to stay fully vested in ss they could. If they wanted some of the money to instaed go to a thrift savings plan or other fund they could. Their ss benefits would be reduced because of reduced investment, but they would potentialy make up for that and then some by investing their retirement money elsewhere of their choosing. What is wrong with that??  The lock box  was a scam algore tried to start.  ss money is paid out as taxes are collected,it does not sit somewhere .

tux

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2007, 08:14:13 AM »
The Social Security Act of 1965 was a United States federal law that established Medicare and Medicaid. It did so by 'liberating' the Social Security Trust Fund, changing its funding from a forced savings type of an account into a 'pay as you go' type of fund. This system has caused concerns about its long-term stability.

 

tux

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2007, 08:21:42 AM »
During the Carter administration, immigrants who had never paid into the system became eligible for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits when they reached age 65. SSI is not a Social Security benefit, but welfare, because the poor elderly are entitled to SSI regardless of work history. Likewise, SSI is not an entitlement, because there is no right to SSI payments.

The 1983 amendments to the SSA, resulting from the 1982 report of the Greenspan Commission[citation needed] empaneled to investigate the long-run solvency of Social Security, taxed Social Security benefits for the first time: benefits in excess of a household income threshold, generally $25,000 for singles and $32,000 for couples (the precise formula computes and compares three different measures) became taxable. The amendments also gradually increased the age of eligibility for full old-age benefits, from 65 to 67 for those born after 1959.

In 1940, benefits paid totaled $35 million. These rose to $961 million in 1950, $11.2 billion in 1960, $31.9 billion in 1970, $120.5 billion in 1980, and $247.8 billion in 1990 (all figures in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation). In 2004, $492 billion of benefits were paid to 47.5 million beneficiaries.


Offline Smokey

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2007, 12:33:28 PM »

Go online and look up the work USA TODAY, Dennis Cauchon has done on this subject. There are others who have a longtime been saying this. I have been reading GAO reports for years which identify our fiscal condition, which departments and agencies are doing right and wrong. This has been my area of concern for about 10-years now.

Just challenge what I have said and be specific.

Offline ghost_of_notsniw

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2007, 10:12:49 PM »
Go online and look up the work USA TODAY, Dennis Cauchon has done on this subject. There are others who have a longtime been saying this. I have been reading GAO reports for years which identify our fiscal condition, which departments and agencies are doing right and wrong. This has been my area of concern for about 10-years now.

Just challenge what I have said and be specific.

Here you go, the unaltered piece:

The federal government keeps two sets of books.
The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.

The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

Congress has written its own accounting rules — which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel.

Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household.

A growing number of Congress members and accounting experts say it's time for Congress to start using the audited financial statement when it makes budget decisions. They say accurate accounting would force Congress to show more restraint before approving popular measures to boost spending or cut taxes.

"We're a bottom-line culture, and we've been hiding the bottom line from the American people," says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a former investment banker. "It's not fair to them, and it's delusional on our part."

The House of Representatives supported Cooper's proposal this year to ask the president to include the audited numbers in his budgets, but the Senate did not consider the measure.

Good accounting is crucial at a time when the government faces long-term challenges in paying benefits to tens of millions of Americans for Medicare, Social Security and government pensions, say advocates of stricter accounting rules in federal budgeting.

"Accounting matters," says Harvard University law professor Howell Jackson, who specializes in business law. "The deficit number affects how politicians act. We need a good number so politicians can have a target worth looking at."

The audited financial statement — prepared by the Treasury Department — reveals a federal government in far worse financial shape than official budget reports indicate, a USA TODAY analysis found. The government has run a deficit of $2.9 trillion since 1997, according to the audited number. The official deficit since then is just $729 billion. The difference is equal to an entire year's worth of federal spending.

Surplus or deficit?

Congress and the president are able to report a lower deficit mostly because they don't count the growing burden of future pensions and medical care for federal retirees and military personnel. These obligations are so large and are growing so fast that budget surpluses of the late 1990s actually were deficits when the costs are included.

The Clinton administration reported a surplus of $559 billion in its final four budget years. The audited numbers showed a deficit of $484 billion.

In addition, neither of these figures counts the financial deterioration in Social Security or Medicare. Including these retirement programs in the bottom line, as proposed by a board that oversees accounting methods used by the federal government, would show the government running annual deficits of trillions of dollars.

The Bush administration opposes including Social Security and Medicare in the audited deficit. Its reason: Congress can cancel or cut the retirement programs at any time, so they should not be considered a government liability for accounting purposes.

Policing the numbers

The government's record-keeping was in such disarray 15 years ago that both parties agreed drastic steps were needed. Congress and two presidents took a series of actions from 1990 to 1996 that:

• Created the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board to establish accounting rules, a role similar to what the powerful Financial Accounting Standards Board does for corporations.

• Added chief financial officers to all major government departments and agencies.

• Required annual audited financial reports of those departments and agencies.

• Ordered the Treasury Department to publish, for the first time, a comprehensive annual financial report for the federal government — an audited report like those published every year by corporations.

These laws have dramatically improved federal financial reporting. Today, 18 of 24 departments and agencies produce annual reports certified by auditors. (The others, including the Defense Department, still have record-keeping troubles so severe that auditors refuse to certify the reliability of their books, according to the government's annual report.)

The culmination of improved record-keeping is the "Financial Report of the U.S. Government," an annual report similar to a corporate annual report. (The 158-page report for 2005 is available online at fms.treas.gov/fr/index.html.)

The House Budget Committee has tried to increase the prominence of the audited financial results. When the House passed its version of a budget this year, it included Cooper's proposal asking Bush to add the audited numbers to the annual budget he submits to Congress. The request died when the House and Senate couldn't agree on a budget. Cooper has reintroduced the proposal.

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, established under the first President Bush in 1990 to set federal accounting rules, is considering adding Social Security and Medicare to the government's audited bottom line.

Recognizing costly programs

Adding those costs would make federal accounting similar to that used by corporations, state and local governments and large non-profit entities such as universities and charities. It would show the government recording enormous losses because the deficit would reflect the growing shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare.

The government would have reported nearly $40 trillion in losses since 1997 if the deterioration of Social Security and Medicare had been included, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the proposed accounting change. That's because generally accepted accounting principles require reporting financial burdens when they are incurred, not when they come due.

For example: If Microsoft announced today that it would add a drug benefit for its retirees, the company would be required to count the future cost of the program, in today's dollars, as a business expense. If the benefit cost $1 billion in today's dollars and retirees were expected to pay $200 million of the cost, Microsoft would be required to report a reduction in net income of $800 million.

This accounting rule is a major reason corporations have reduced and limited retirement benefits over the last 15 years.

The federal government's audited financial statement now accounts for the retirement costs of civil servants and military personnel — but not the cost of Social Security and Medicare.

The new Medicare prescription-drug benefit alone would have added $8 trillion to the government's audited deficit. That's the amount the government would need today, set aside and earning interest, to pay for the tens of trillions of dollars the benefit will cost in future years.

Standard accounting concepts say that $8 trillion should be reported as an expense. Combined with other new liabilities and operating losses, the government would have reported an $11 trillion deficit in 2004 — about the size of the nation's entire economy.

The federal government also would have had a $12.7 trillion deficit in 2000 because that was the first year that Social Security and Medicare reported broader measures of the programs' unfunded liabilities. That created a one-time expense.

The proposal to add Social Security and Medicare to the bottom line has deeply divided the federal accounting board, composed of government officials and "public" members, who are accounting experts from outside government.

The six public members support the change. "Our job is to give people a clear picture of the financial condition of the government," board Chairman David Mosso says. "Whether those numbers are good or bad and what you do about them is up to Congress and the administration."

The four government members, who represent the president, Congress and the Government Accountability Office, oppose the change. The retirement programs do "not represent a legal obligation because Congress has the authority to increase or reduce social insurance benefits at any time," wrote Clay Johnson III, then acting director of the president's Office of Management Budget, in a letter to the board in May.

Ways of accounting

Why the big difference between the official government deficit and the audited one?

The official number is based on "cash accounting," similar to the way you track what comes into your checking account and what goes out. That works fine for paying today's bills, but it's a poor way to measure a financial condition that could include credit card debt, car loans, a mortgage and an overdue electric bill.

The audited number is based on accrual accounting. This method doesn't care about your checking account. It measures income and expenses when they occur, or accrue. If you buy a velvet Elvis painting online, the cost goes on the books immediately, regardless of when the check clears or your eBay purchase arrives.

Cash accounting lets income and expenses land in different reporting periods. Accrual accounting links them. Under cash accounting, a $25,000 cash advance on a credit card to pay for a vacation makes the books look great. You are $25,000 richer! Repaying the credit card debt? No worries today. That will show up in the future.

Under accrual accounting, the $25,000 cash from your credit card is offset immediately by the $25,000 you now owe. Your bottom line hasn't changed. An accountant might even make you report a loss on the transaction because of the interest you're going to pay.

"The problem with cash accounting is that there's a tremendous opportunity for manipulation," says University of Texas accounting professor Michael Granof. "It's not just that you fool others. You end up fooling yourself, too."

Federal law requires that companies and institutions that have revenue of $1 million or more use accrual accounting. Microsoft used accrual accounting when it reported $12 billion in net income last year. The American Red Cross used accrual accounting when it reported a $445 million net gain.

Congress used cash accounting when it reported the $318 billion deficit last year.

Social Security chief actuary Stephen Goss says it would be a mistake to apply accrual accounting to Social Security and Medicare. These programs are not pensions or legally binding federal obligations, although many people view them that way, he says.

Social Security and Medicare are pay-as-you go programs and should be treated like food stamps and fighter jets, not like a Treasury bond that must be repaid in the future, he adds. "A country doesn't record a liability every time a kid is born to reflect the cost of providing that baby with a K-12 education one day," Goss says.

Tom Allen, who will become the chairman of the federal accounting board in December, says sound accounting principles require that financial statements reflect the economic value of an obligation.

"It's hard to argue that there's no economic substance to the promises made for Social Security and Medicare," he says.

Social Security and Medicare should be reflected in the bottom line because that's the most important number in any financial report, Allen says.

"The point of the number is to tell the public: Did the government's financial condition improve or deteriorate over the last year?" he says.

If you count Social Security and Medicare, the federal government's financial health got $3.5 trillion worse last year.

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, a certified public accountant, says the numbers reported under accrual accounting give an accurate picture of the government's condition. "An old photographer's adage says, 'If you want a prettier picture, bring me a prettier face,' " he says.


Offline Smokey

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Re: Does anyone now believe Social Security and Medicare is almost broke?
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2007, 10:51:40 PM »
GHOST
It appears your information shows our fiscal standing much worst than is reported by David Walker, who is saying it is critical. So what is your point? What is the source of your quotes? I like them, it makes my point. WE ARE IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE and it is not getting better nor will it until we quit spending the future of our kids and grandkids.

This is what makes me upset with Ike Skelton, Sen. Bond and all in the House and Senate members who refuse to address the debt issue. It is all about them bringing home the bacon and buying their votes. When will it end? I do not mind politicians spending money but not before we cutback our government and address our debt and trade deficit.

The biggest expense we are now facing is the illegal immigration give away program. It costs taxpayers $22,299 for each high school drop out. The report by Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation and can be found at: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/sr12.cfm

This needs to be reviewed by everyone before they make up their mind on a comprehensive immigration bill. I am also ashamed of our chamber of commerce who is willing to sell the future of America so their members can benefit form cheaper cost of labor. Look at how the wages in Greely, CO started rising after the Swift & Co raids last year. Wages in the meatpacking plant in 1986 was $20.00 and hour and had been driven down over the years by illegal aliens willing to work for less and less, so the wages dropped ot $9.55 to $11.50 an hour. After the raids wages went to $12 to $13 an hour and therewas a long line of Americans willint to take the jobs. So much for illegal aliens only being here to do jobs Americans will not do. By the way,Former employees are suing Swift & Co. for $23 million, alleging the meatpacking company conspired to keep wages down by hiring illegal workers.

The 18 former employees are legal residents who worked at a plant in Cactus, Texas, north of Amarillo. The plant was one of six facilities - including one in Marshalltown, Ia. - raided in a multistate federal sweep that led to the arrests of nearly 1,300 employees and temporarily halted Swift's operations.

"These plaintiffs are ... victims in a long-standing scheme by Swift to depress and artificially lower the wages of its workers by knowingly hiring illegal workers," said their lawyer, Angel Reyes.