"The government says that a bad economy has shortened the lives of the trust funds that support the nation's two biggest benefit programs," The Associated Press writes.
The wire service says that the fund's trustees are reporting today that "the Medicare hospital insurance fund will now be exhausted in 2024, five years earlier than last year's estimate. ... [And] the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than before."
As Reuters adds:
"The latest projections hit in the middle of an intense debate between the Obama administration and opposition Republicans about how to rein in the nation's runaway debt, set to hit the legal limit of $14.3 trillion on Monday. Whether the two costly entitlement programs should be on the table has been an intense subject of debate."
We'll have more on the report later this afternoon. And NPR's John Ydstie is reporting about it for All Things Considered. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.