During the vice-presidential debate Martha Raddatz used her position as debate moderator to ask the candidates about the impending bankruptcies of Social Security and Medicare. It was incredibly irresponsible to use such a loaded term to refer to the financial problems facing these programs.
Both Social Security and Medicare are projected to face shortfalls over their 75-year planning horizon, however these shortfalls are not accurately described as "bankruptcy." This phrase undoubtedly leads many people to believe that there is a prospect that the programs would go out of business.
Polls consistently show that a majority of young people believe that they stand to get nothing back from Social Security when they retire. That is of course not true unless Congress were to vote to eliminate the program. Under the latest projections they would stand to get a larger benefit than current retirees even if nothing is ever done to change the program's finances. It is unlikely that listeners would understand this to be the case based on Raddatz's comment.
It is also unlikely that viewers would have realized that the changes put in place by the Affordable Care Act extended the date when Medicare is first projected to face a shortfall from 2016 to 2024 and reduced the projected shortfall over the program's 75-year planning period by more than two thirds. The remaining gap could be filled by a tax increase that is less than 2 percent of projected wage growth over the next 30 years.
It is the job of the moderator to try to provide their audience with information and to draw out the candidates' views. It is incredibly irresponsible to use this platform to push their personal agenda for the country's two most important social programs.
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