Good News! Medicare and Social Security running out of money faster than first thought

Just think - this gives Democrats more opportunity to accuse Republicans of lying about Medicare running out of money.

Good thing too: We wouldn't want to upset the old folks - that is, until Medicare actually does run out of money and then Democrats can scream at Republicans for trying to hide it.

The new Medicare trustees report says the trust fund is now likely to run out of money in 2024, five years earlier than predicted last year.

The reason, according to CMS, is that the economic recovery has been slower than expected - making tax revenues come in more slowly.

At a press briefing, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the change in the projection was due to "technical changes in the economic assumptions underlying the projections."

CMS also said the passage of the health care reform law added eight years of life to the Medicare trust fund. Without the law, the agency said, the trust fund would go into the red in 2016.

In last year's report, the trustees predicted the cost savings and tax increases in the Affordable Care Act would extend the life of the Medicare trust fund for 12 years. At that time, it was expected to run out of money in 2029, rather than 2017.

That was a controversial conclusion, since most Republicans think the savings in the law can be used either to extend the life of the trust fund or to pay for the new health care reform programs, but not both.

The so-called "double counting" of cuts to Medicare is still being used successfully to hide the shortfall. When reality sets in, we'll be back at square one wondering what to do to fix it.

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