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WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF: Europe's debt fix falters; Social Security heads for insolvency

Monday, April 23, 2012 | 8:17 p.m. CDT; updated 2:28 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 3, 2012

Social Security heading for insolvency even faster, government says

WASHINGTON — The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 — three years earlier than previously projected — the government said Monday. The decline in Social Security has been driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians' reluctance to take painful action to fix the huge retirement and disability program.

There was no change in the year that Medicare's hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money. It's still 2024. The program's trustees, however, said the pace of Medicare spending continues to accelerate. Congress enacted a 2 percent cut for Medicare last year, and that is the main reason the trust fund exhaustion date did not advance.

Europe's debt fix falters, rattling financial markets

FRANKFURT, Germany —Europe's plan to fix its debt crisis by imposing budget cuts frayed Monday.

The German stock market suffered its worst day in six weeks. In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 100 points.

Across Europe, the debt crisis appeared at its most perilous point since December, when most of the continent united behind a plan to place strict caps on government spending.

Cutting government spending can weaken an economy and result in less tax revenue flowing back to the government. So the goal of cutting the deficit can backfire and make it grow.

And even if a country is reducing its deficit, it still has one, which means the debt is increasing. The European Union said Monday that governments did cut their budget deficits in 2011, but government debt nonetheless rose as a percentage of economic output.

French election: Sarkozy targets far-right in bid to win runoff

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy starkly laid out his path to re-election Monday: He will be plunging deep into far-right territory to hunt the votes he needs to beat Socialist challenger Francois Hollande in the runoff.

A day after Hollande won a slim upper hand in the first round of voting, Sarkozy candidly ogled voters of the far-right National Front whose candidate, Marine Le Pen, placed a solid third. She gave the party its highest-ever score, nearly 18 percent — close to one-in-five voters and the biggest surprise of Sunday's first round vote.

Romney backs student loan proposal Obama supports

ASTON, Pa. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday embraced a student loan proposal that President Barack Obama is selling on the campaign trail and refused to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio's conservative immigration plan aimed at helping young illegal immigrants.

The two policy positions signaled an effort by Romney to move to the political center as he works to court critical general election swing voters — including young voters and Hispanic voters — after a brutal primary fight.


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