Social Security and Medicare are under attack from Wall Street, conservatives, and free market economists. The claims are that these programs are unaffordable and that the programs can be run more efficiently and at less cost if privatized.
The programs are disparaged as “entitlements.” The word has come to imply that entitled people are getting something at great cost to everyone else. Indeed, entitlements have become conflated with welfare.
In fact, Social Security and Medicare are financed by an earmarked payroll tax paid by employees. (Economists regard the part of the payroll tax that is paid by employers as part of the employee’s wage.)
According to the Social Security and Medicare trustees, Social Security as presently configured can pay full promised benefits for the next two decades and with current payroll tax and demographic trends can pay 75% of benefits thereafter. Medicare can pay full benefits for 12 more years and 90% of promised benefits thereafter.
It makes sense to look ahead–something that democracies seldom do–but there is no current crisis.