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Consumer Confidential: Benefit programs ailing, game sales up, stroller recall repeated

May 13, 2011 | 10:05 am

Kombatpic Here's your his-latest-flame Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- The bad economy is bad news for the nation's big benefit programs: Social Security and Medicare. The government says the high unemployment rate and other economic woes have shortened the life of the trust funds that support the programs. The annual checkup says the Medicare hospital insurance fund will now be exhausted in 2024, five years earlier than last year's estimate. The Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than before. Trustees for the funds say the worsening financial picture emphasizes the need for Congress to make changes to avoid disruptive consequences for millions of people who depend on health and pension benefits. To which I say: Yes, please.

-- At least we'll be able to amuse ourselves while watching the benefit programs crumble. Video-game sales grew 26% in April versus last year. Five games sold more than 250,000 units last month, versus just two that sold above that amount a year ago, according to NPD Group. Sales of new console and portable games, excluding PC games, hit $503.2 million, up from $398.5 million a year ago. Including PC games, the figure is $533.6 million, a 24% rise from $429.4 million. The top-selling games were "Mortal Kombat 2011," "Portal 2," "Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars", "Call of Duty: Black Ops" and "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters."

-- One more time: Stroller maker MacLaren USA has reissued a recall notice for about 1 million strollers sold before November 2009. The stroller's hinge mechanism poses a risk of cuts and even fingertip amputation for little ones when the stroller is being folded or unfolded. MacLaren has received a total of 149 reported incidents with the strollers, including 37 reported injuries that occurred after the stroller was recalled in November 2009. These injuries include five additional fingertip amputations, 16 additional lacerations and 16 additional fingertip entrapments/bruising. More info can be obtained by calling MacLaren at (877) 688-2326.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Benefit programs are facing some Mortal Kombat from the economy. Credit: Midway