NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams failed to correct Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) false assertion that the Social Security trust fund will have "no money at all left" in 15 years in an interview following President Bush's February 2 State of the Union address.
From NBC's February 2 post-speech coverage:
McCAIN: I think he [President Bush] made the strong argument for personal savings accounts, and also I think he did point out that -- look, we could wait until 15 years from now when there's no money at all left in the Social Security trust fund, but I don't think we want to wait till then --
As Media Matters for America previously noted, Social Security's board of trustees estimated in its 2004 report that the Social Security trust fund will not be exhausted until 2042, or 37 years from now, if no changes to the system are made. Even then, the report continued: "Present tax rates would be sufficient to pay 73 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2042 and 68 percent of scheduled benefits in 2078." A June 2004 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Social Security would become insolvent ten years later, in 2052, and also projected that benefits would continue to be paid well into the next century.
In 2018, Social Security's promised benefits are projected to exceed the system's tax revenue. At that time, as planned, the government will have to supplement revenues with the Social Security trust fund to meet payment obligations to retirees, but the system will not be insolvent.