Biden's Social Security Lie and The Nation's Debt Crisis

Show Notes

There’s a huge balloon floating over the nation. Everyone wants it gone, and we all worry what it might do to us. It’s the national debt, currently about $30 trillion dollars. Your hosts Peter Schweizer and Eric Eggers tackle ways Congress might start to reduce the federal debt, much of which is the fault of spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security, on the episode of the Drill Down with Peter Schweizer.

The federal government is like a bad contractor, Peter complains. First it gives us bad cost estimates for the job, then it goes over budget regularly, hires incompetents to do the work, discovers extra work that needs to be done, gets surprised by events, and tells us when we try to rein it in that our whole house will fall down if we do.

Unfortunately, this contractor is the only game in town.

Something like that happened during President Joe Biden’s recent State of the Union speech regarding Social Security and entitlements reform and how interest payments on the national debt are now approaching the defense budget as the largest line item on the federal budget.

Biden singled out a proposal offered by Florida Sen. Rick Scott to require Congress to re-authorize all federal programs every five years as “wanting to sunset Medicare and Social Security every five years.”

It was a cheap shot, meant to rile up the Republicans (who have not signed onto the idea yet in any case) and it succeeded. Jeers went up from the right side of the House chamber as Republican congressmen balked at the claim.

It is true that annual interest payments on the national debt will eclipse the defense budget by 2026 at current spending rates, as Peter notes in the show. It is also true that higher interest rates are speeding us to that inflection point because of higher spending Biden and congressional Democrats rammed through Congress in Biden’s first two years. And it is further true that government spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security, which are not counted as part of the federal budget itself, are snowballing as more Americans age, retire, and need medical services.

Because the Congress has so often failed to pass an actual budget, nothing changes, programs remain on auto-pilot, and annual deficits pile onto the existing mountain of national debt without meaningful attempts to fix it.

FILE – In this Oct. 4, 1950 file photo, Ida May Fuller, 76, displays a Social Security check for $41.30 that she received at her home in Ludlow Vt. On Jan. 31, 1940, Fuller received the country’s first Social Security check for $22.54. By the time she died in 1975 at age 100, she had received nearly $23,000 in benefits. (AP Photo, File)

Eric jokes that the one person responsible for it all is a woman named Ida May Fuller, a resident of Ludlow, Vermont who in 1940 received the first ever Social Security check (for $22) in the mail.

When he was younger, Joe Biden supported cutting Social Security in 1975 and again in the 1990s. But the elder Biden, now 80, feels different. But it is doubtful whether even 1975 Joe Biden would have guessed how big a burden entitlement spending would become by 2023. That is because politicians routinely underestimate the actual cost of the programs they create. For example, Peter notes, the student loan takeover during the Obama administration was touted as an actual money maker for the federal government. It was supposed to bring in $114 billion over ten years. Instead, it has cost the government $197 billion, a nearly $300 billion difference.

The Medicare Part B program for doctors was supposed to cost $500 million but instead has cost $163 billion over time. Peter adds that the “Obamacare act,” formally known as the Affordable Care Act, was supposed to cost $943 billion over ten years and actually cost $1.6 trillion over the same time period. No plumber would survive with those kinds of cost overruns.

There are occasional efforts made to rein in entitlements spending, but they don’t last long. George W. Bush attempted to propose some reform of Social Security in his term and was shot down like a Chinese spy balloon by congressional Democrats and even some in his own party for daring it. The problem remains and the Social Security trust fund is headed for bankruptcy without some kind of fix.

The big problem, as Peter notes, is that if we can’t trust our politicians even to admit the problem, how can we trust them when they tell us they have a way to fix that problem?

“As citizens, we must acknowledge the politicians are lying to us about the state of Social Security. We have to be smarter voters who demand they tell us the truth about the debt the government is creating,” Peter says. “Be an informed consumer.”

“Our politicians are now 80 years old and they don’t think long term. Our media is also at fault because they cover any reform idea put forth as “ending Social Security” to enrage and titillate their audience, instead of explaining what Rick Scott was really suggesting, which is that Congress should vote to reauthorize federal entitlements programs every five years.”

What we need, Peter and Eric conclude, is for the contractor to be under better ownership.