Social Security Could Go Broke by 2036, Study Says

WITHOUT intervention, the baby boom generation will drain Social Security's retirement trust fund by 2036, eight years earlier than forecast just last year, a federal report says.

The annual study by the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, released April 11, also warned that Social Security's disability trust fund could go broke in 1995, while Medicare will be able to pay the hospital costs of the nation's elderly and disabled workers for only seven more years.

Congress is expected to shore up the trust fund by changing the formula for dividing payroll taxes among the retirement and disability trust funds. At the same time, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala argues that passage of health care reform would significantly improve the longer-term fiscal health of Medicare by controlling the growth in spending. Medicare and Social Security account for more than one-fourth of the federal budget. They pump $1 billion a day into the economy and support 1 in 4 households. Social Security's retirement trust fund will be able to pay benefits for about 42 years under current law, and for about 36 years with the recommended changes in the formula to bail out the disability insurance fund. F-15I sale to Israel

THE Clinton administration intends to sell Israel up to 25 new F-15I fighter-bombers, the first transfer to another country of such a sophisticated plane, the Pentagon announced April 11. In a statement, the Pentagon said it told Congress the estimated cost of the deal would be $2.4 billion. Congress has the authority to stop the sale, but backers of the arrangement contend it will not be blocked.

Israel has 51 older model F-15s, but the newest plane will be capable of long-range attack missions and will allow Israel to reach such distant potential adversaries as Iran, Iraq, and Libya.

Mitchell drops out

SENATE majority leader George Mitchell (D) of Maine abruptly took himself out of contention for a Supreme Court seat April 12, saying he had concluded he could best serve President Clinton on Capitol Hill. Senator Mitchell said the president had intended to appoint him to the vacancy.

``I've asked President Clinton not to consider me for the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by Justice [Harry A.] Blackmun's retirement,'' Mitchell told a Capitol Hill news conference. Mitchell said he made his decision Monday afternoon and then had an hour-long meeting with Clinton at the White House to convey his decision.

``He told me that he wanted to appoint me to the court, that he intended to appoint me to the court, but that he was as concerned as I was about the prospect that the nomination would affect my ability to serve as majority leader for the rest of the session,'' Mitchell told reporters.

In addition to Mitchell, Clinton's list of prospects is said to include US District Judge Jose Cabranes of Connecticut and Solicitor General Drew Days III. The list also includes three federal appeals court justices: Amalya Kearse of New York, Stephen Breyer of Boston, and Richard Arnold of Little Rock, Ark.

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