The head of the General Accounting Office says tough decisions have to be made about the ailing Social Security program, sooner rather than later.
Comptroller-General David Walker says quick action will reduce the squeeze on the federal budget when the baby boomers begin retiring in about five years. He told a Senate panel that if nothing is done, Social Security recipients will see a 27-percent drop in their checks by 2039. Walker says failure to act will also mean persistent and escalating federal deficits, tax hikes and budget cuts. But little action is expected before next year's elections.
Social Security Deputy Commissioner James Lockhart says one option is to raise Social Security taxes. He says the payroll tax would have to begin increasing in 2042 and would climb to almost 19-percent in 2077. That's about 50 percent more than the current level.