Lawmakers use Medicare's trust fund to kick the can down the road on entitlement reform.
In 2020, the federal government for the first time spent more on Medicare than on national defense. Absent legislative reform, Medicare funding as a share of GDP is projected to increase by another 50 percent over the next 20 years.
Medicare’s trustees recently surprised nobody by projecting that the program’s trust fund will run out of money within five years. Most observers have rolled their eyes at the news, accepting that Medicare’s costs are out of control and no one is willing to address the looming insolvency. In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly acted to rein in Medicare costs. But this has typically been motivated by broader fiscal considerations and the desire to use resources for other purposes. The trust-fund device by itself achieves little other than legitimizing regressive tax increases that otherwise would not be possible.
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