THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Tuesday, March 30, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:
STRENGTHENING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
This Trustees report brings welcome news, and a clear lesson: with tough, disciplined action we can extend the life of Social Security and Medicare. Now we must apply that lesson by acting this year to strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the 21st Century.
President Bill Clinton
March 30, 1999
Today at the White House, President Clinton receives the report of the Social Security Trustees, who now project that the Social Security Trust Fund will not be exhausted until 2034 --2 years later than projected in last year's report, and the Medicare Trustees report showing that the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended 7 years, until 2015.
President Clinton Is Committed To Ensuring The Long-Term Solvency Of Social Security. The Annual Report of the Social Security Trustees shows an improvement in the long-term status of the Social Security Trust Fund. Under the new projections, the Social Security Trust Fund will not be exhausted until 2034, 2 years later than projected in last year's report. The expansion in the life of the Trust Fund is due in large part to our continued economic expansion and the President's strategy of fiscal discipline. The President has emphasized that reform must occur now while our economy is strong. In his State of the Union address this past January, President Clinton proposed to:
- Transfer 62 percent of the projected budget surpluses over the next 15 years--more than $2.7 trillion--to the Social Security Trust Fund; and
- Invest a portion of these transferred surpluses in the private sector to achieve higher returns for Social Security.
Under the revised Trustees' projections, this will keep Social Security solvent until roughly 2059. The President wants to work with both parties in Congress to make the tough but sensible choices that are necessary to save Social Security, and is committed to working on a bipartisan basis to extend the life of Social Security until at least 2075.
Strengthening Medicare For The Future. Ensuring the long-term solvency of Medicare is one of the most important issues we face as a nation. Enrollment in Medicare will climb from 39 million to 47 million in 2010, and to 80 million by 2035. When the President came into office, the Medicare program was projected by the Trustees to go bankrupt this year. Today, the fiscal policies of the Clinton-Gore Administration have extended the life of the Trust Fund until 2015. We must use this historic opportunity to strengthen Medicare by devoting 15 percent of the budget surplus to this program over the next 15 years and modernize Medicare to help fund a prescription drug benefit.
Fiscal Discipline To Help Ensure Long-Term Economic Growth. This time of economic prosperity offers us a unique opportunity to strengthen the future of Social Security and Medicare while securing continued economic growth. When the President took office, publicly held debt, as a share of the economy, was 50 percent - - today, it is 44 percent. Under the President's framework, the publicly held debt will be cut by more than two- thirds, and, as a share of the GDP, will fall from 44% today to 7.1% in 2014--its lowest level since 1917. We must not squander this opportunity to reduce our debt, extend the life of Social Security and strengthen Medicare.