WASHINGTON — Cherie Schrengauer, who co-owns a small café and bakery shop in Stow, just east of Akron, said she is “nervous” about the latest government forecasts for Social Security’s finances.
Just last week, the federal government warned that unless Congress and the president devise a fix to Social Security within 15 years, the 54-year-old Schrengauer, her parents, and every other retired American will have their benefits slashed by more than 20 percent.
“I get worried,” she said. “And I also get angry. I’d hate to see (her parents’) benefits go down” in the year 2035.
The report by the Social Security and Medicare trustees shows that if Congress does nothing, retirees will, by 2035, receive only 77 percent of their promised Social Security benefits. And by 2026, Medicare’s hospitalization program will be able to afford only 89 percent of payments promised to hospitals.
“It’s a certain inevitability, much like an avalanche gaining strength and rolling downhill,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan Washington organization that pushes for balanced budgets.
And while Schrengauer frets about the report’s predictions, it created barely a ripple in Washington, where neither political party shows any willingness to devise the tough compromises that budget analysts say are necessary to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent.
Instead, President Donald Trump was telling reporters last week that the government needs to “get back to cutting taxes,” while Democratic presidential candidates during a series of CNN town-hall meetings were competing with each other for new spending plans to reduce the burden of student debt.
“We are in a moment where none of our political leaders are willing to do things that are hard,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington. “We have a political class so focused on beating the other team up that they are no longer tending to the crucial priorities of the nation.”
Rather than fixing Social Security, the two parties are offering what MacGuineas calls an “Alice In Wonderland World of free lunches,” at a time when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the government will add $11.6 trillion of fresh debt during the next decade.
“It is certainly true that before we add new programs or cut any taxes, we already are on a fiscally unsustainable path,” said Michael Peterson, chief executive officer of the Peterson Foundation in New…