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Hey, Harry Reid, do you think we have an entitlement crisis yet?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 12, 2009 11:56 PM

I want to remind you of what Harry Reid said just a few years ago in response to Republican calls for Social Security and Medicare reform. Reacting to GOP warnings in 2005 about the impending insolvency of both programs, Reid sneered:

“Today’s report confirms that the so-called Social Security crisis exists in only one place — the minds of Republicans,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “In reality, the program is on solid ground for decades to come.”

Now, the Obama administration tells us:

Social Security and Medicare are fading even faster under the weight of the recession, heading for insolvency years sooner than previously expected, the government warned Tuesday. Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2016, a year sooner than projected last year, and the giant trust fund will be depleted by 2037, four years sooner, trustees reported.

Medicare is in even worse shape. The trustees said the program for hospital expenses will pay out more in benefits than it collects this year, just as it did for the first time in 2008. The trustees project that the Medicare fund will be depleted by 2017, two years earlier than the date projected in last year’s report.

The trust funds — which exist in paper form in a filing cabinet in Parkersburg, W.Va. — are bonds that are backed by the government’s “full faith and credit” but not by any actual assets. That money has been spent over the years to fund other parts of government. To redeem the trust fund bonds, the government would have to borrow in public debt markets or raise taxes.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the head of the trustees group, said the new reports were a reminder that “the longer we wait to address the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security, the sooner those challenges will be upon us and the harder the options will be.”

Republicans have been saying this for years.

Just a figment of imagination, eh, Sen. Reid?

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