No, and No.
Yes, Social Security has a projected long-term shortfall in its ability to pay benefits, starting in 2036 or so. But that projection's based on a lot of different assumptions -- including the assumption that we won't fix our wage stagnation problem, that we can't put a lot more people back to work, and that we lack the political will to lift the payroll tax cap to make up for the shortfall in revenue caused by the unexpected increased in six-, seven-, and eight-figure income as the result of growing wage inequity.
And anyone who says that retiring Baby Boomers are part of the problem is peddling snake oil. The last Boomer was born in 1964, and we fixed Social Security in 1983. At least, it was fixed until the top 1 percent -- and top 0.1 percent -- started hijacking our national income.
What's changed since 1983? We didn't produce more Boomers. In 1983 the youngest of them was already old enough to drive to the record store for the latest Huey Lewis and the News album.
What we HAVE produced is more wealth inequity.
4. Medicare benefits need to be cut, too.
Medicare has a serious long-term cost problem. But cutting benefits won't help -- whether it's done by raising the Medicare age, by limiting what it pays for, or imposing arbitrary caps on what it will spend.
If we do those things, overall health-care costs will continue to rise. And we'll have sicker seniors, more seniors in poverty, and seniors who don't live as long.
Means-testing won't cut it, either. Scratch most means-testing proposals and you'll find they're not targeting "millionaires and billionaires" -- they're aimed at the middle class.
We already know how to handle "millionaires and billionaires" more fairly: Raise their taxes. That's simple, clean, efficient, and fair.
The only way to fix our Medicare cost problem is by fixing the impact of unrestrained greed on our health-care system. We need to do something about that -- now.
We don't need to cover less. We need to pay less.
5. We're "living beyond our means."
More snake oil. It's undertaxed corporations and billionaires who are living beyond our nation's means, by claiming an inordinate and unearned share of our nation's wealth and not paying their fair share of taxes for it.
We have the means to be the country we've always been. What we've lacked is the political will to buck the moneyed forces who are dismantling a system that's worked for 75 years.
Ours is a country that won two world wars. We once led the world in economic growth and blazed the way in science, technology, and the arts. We decided to send human beings to the moon and back in ten years ... and did it.