Perpetuating the Medicare, Social Security trust fund myth

May 17, 2011

The Sun does a disservice in Noam N. Levey's reporting ("Medicare to run out in 2024," May 14). The article stresses the dates when the Medicare and Social Service trust funds run out of money, but these are, in fact, fairly meaningless milestones.

The trust funds do not contain any funds. Today, the money to pay benefits comes from general funds, taxes, newly printed money or newly borrowed funds. As noted in the article, Social Security benefits are already being paid partially from the trust fund — excuse me — from general funds. The point when the trust funds are depleted merely indicates when 100 percent instead of 99 percent of the shortage is being paid from general funds.

It is shameful that the myth of the trust funds is continually perpetuated by government and media. With this deception, meaningful changes to save both programs are very difficult politically.

Ralph Strong, Catonsville

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