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Fiscal timebombs

Sunday’s editorial “The Medicare/SS time bomb” was excellent in showing the total mismanagement or nonmanagement of both the Medicare and Social Security programs. The unfunded obligations of both programs are beyond comprehension and also far enough in the future for our present Congress and administration to ignore.

The Social Security program has a more subtle problem that no one seems to recognize. The editorial says President Bush and Congress are preparing to war over $23 billion in domestic discretionary spending in a 2008 fiscal-year budget that will approach $3 trillion. The projected Social Security surplus cash income for 2008 is $90.2 billion, which would cover the $23 billion almost four times. Why not use those funds?

The reason is that Congress has depended on this invisible (to most taxpayers) Social Security surplus cash income for more than 20 years to fatten its budget and then go into deficit spending for more money. This surplus will be decreasing until about 2017, when Social Security cash income will not cover Social Security costs. The problem is: How will the spendthrift Congress make up for the loss of this hidden Social Security income, much less save Social Security? Congress has fostered many fiscal time bombs and offered no solutions.

JOHN T. McVICKAR

Vienna