Blitzer falsely claimed Social Security will "run[] out of money" in 2041


On the April 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer falsely claimed that, according to the April 23 Social Security trustees' report, Social Security will "run[] out of money in 2041." As Media Matters for America has repeatedly explained (see here, here, here, here, and here), Blitzer's description is false: Social Security will not "run[] out of money" when its trust fund becomes depleted, as the trustees' report makes clear.

As the Social Security trustees' report explains, "Even if a trust fund's assets are exhausted ... tax income will continue to flow into the fund." For Social Security, under current law, "Present tax rates would be sufficient to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2041 and 70 percent of scheduled benefits in 2081."

From the April 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: And trustees for Social Security and Medicare are now saying the funds that back the programs will last about a year longer than previously thought, with Social Security running out of money in the year 2041 and Medicare going broke in 2019. The reason? Small changes in projected benefits and tax collections.

According to the April 23 Medicare trustees' report, Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund will be depleted as of 2019. At that point, the report states, Medicare payroll taxes would cover 79 percent of HI expenditures in 2019, 38 percent in 2050, and 29 percent in 2082. HI is also known as Part A.

Other parts of Medicare are funded differently: Medicare Part B (physician and outpatient care) and Part D (prescription drugs) are funded by participants' premiums and general revenues through the Supplemental Medical Insurance (SMI) trust fund. According to the Medicare trustees' report, those premiums "are reset each year to match expected costs." Medicare Part C is a private insurance-based system, and its financial status was not covered in the April 23 report.

Posted In
Economy, Social Security
Wolf Blitzer
The Situation Room
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.