entitlements

What Would Pete Domenici Think?
Current lack of fiscal discipline would’ve alarmed late Senate Budget chairman

Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, second from right, celebrates a budget deal with the White House on July 29, 1997, along with, from left, Speaker Newt Gingrich, House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, Senate Finance Chairman William V. Roth Jr. and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Surrounding them on the House steps are tour groups of Boy Scouts and schoolchildren.(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — One year ago this week, we lost a great statesman and legislator. Pete Domenici’s storied career in public service, most notably as a U.S. senator, spanned more than three decades. He will forever be the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Equally remarkable, he was a Republican from traditionally blue New Mexico — and its longest-serving senator. That says something about his personal and policy appeal to the public, regardless of party.

At Rally, Trump Says Democrats Would ‘Destroy’ Social Security
President tells supporters impeachment would be ‘your fault’

President Donald Trump, here at a campaign rally in 2016, was in Montana again on Thursday night. And he made Social Security a midterm election issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Less than two months from Election Day, President Donald Trump on Thursday night stepped up his rhetoric about Social Security and other federal benefit programs by warning Democrats want to “destroy” them.

The president had not focused on the federal retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits program at previous political rallies. But as the midterm elections near, he debuted some new — and sharp — lines at a rally in Billings, Montana.

Podcast: A Growing Controversy
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 13

MAY 26: Farm land is watered by a large irrigation sprinkler in the desert near Palmdale, Calif., on Saturday, May 26, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Time Running Out in Ryan’s Quest to Overhaul Welfare Programs
Speaker returns to Jack Kemp roots as he targets SNAP and TANF

In his remaining months as speaker, Paul D. Ryan is making one last push on poverty. Above, Bishop Shirley Holloway helps Ryan unveil his plan for “A Better Way” in Anacostia in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has spent his 20-year congressional career primarily focused on two issues, taxes and poverty. The Wisconsin Republican led a major rewrite of the tax code last year, but when he retires at the end of this term he won’t have many accomplishments to tout on poverty.

The last big win for conservatives in the so-called War on Poverty was the 1996 welfare overhaul, Ryan acknowledged on PBS’ “Firing Line” earlier this month.

Opinion: No News Is Bad News — The Looming Social Security Crisis
Don’t be fooled by the absence of alarming headlines

Demonstrators in Chicago in 2011 rally against cuts to federal safety net programs. Social Security is facing severe challenges that policymakers must address soon, Fichtner writes. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The Social Security crisis is not only real, it is already well upon us.

That may not have been obvious to everyone from the annual report issued by the program’s trustees last week. With neither a dire nor stellar update, the report inspired little passion. In fact, many might have mistaken the minor changes to mean that Social Security’s finances are now stable. But don’t be fooled: The absence of alarming headlines is anything but good news.

Medicare Finances Worsen but Social Security Projections Stable
Changes by Congress to tax law, entitlements affect projections

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was among the senior administration officials outlining the annual report on the health of the Medicare and Social Security systems. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Social Security system is in almost the same shape as last year for its retirement benefits and in a better position for its disability benefits, the program’s trustees reported Tuesday. But a separate report for Medicare paints a somewhat bleaker outlook for the giant health program for seniors and people with disabilities, estimating that its hospital trust fund will dry up in 2026 — three years earlier than last year’s projections.

Medicare’s board of trustees attributed the change, in part, to lower payroll taxes and higher-than-expected health care spending in 2017.