The more I listen to our brethren on the Right blather, the more clearly I hear Oingo Boingo. Note to conservative and Libertarians: Elfman is not singing your praises.
The fact of the matter is, Social Security is not only not responsible for our deficit woes, it is independent of the deficit and it is solvent for decades. Period. Full stop.
That CBO report finds that the Social Security trustfund, without changing a thing, will be able to make full payouts through 2039 – it should also be noted that the full payout projections have been pushed downward by the economic downturn of the last couple of years, and those numbers should start moving the other way as the economy recovers. And if that isn’t the case, we have a lot bigger problems than Social Security coming down the pike.
And even if the trust fund were to run out, Social Security would still be in pretty good shape. First of all, the trust fund is a relatively recent creation. It was establisned in 1983, three years before the baby boomers started turning forty, to deal with the demographic bulge headed Social Security’s way in 2011. That last boomers will retire in 2029, ten years before the trust fund is currently projected to be depleted. Essentially, when the trust fund runs dry, it will coincide with the fact that it’s mission will be, for the most part, complete. It will have eased the strain caused by the retirement of the baby boom.
The depletion of the Social Security trust fund is not a pending disaster, it’s by design. The fact of the matter is, in case you are one of the people in this country to whom facts matter, Social Security is a self funding entity, independent of the general fund. It funds itself entirely through payroll taxes, and so long as payroll taxes are collected, retirees will get their checks. The only way that changes is if Congress acts to stop collecting payroll taxes or to outright abolish the program.
Faced with that reality, those who oppose Social Security tend to go into “yeah, but…” mode and clutch at their pearls while they try in vain not to hyperventilate over a projected $4.5 trillion-with-a-t hole in Social Securities budget seventy five years down the road.
But this, too, is a faulty argument because a very modest increase – 1% or less – in the amount of payroll tax withheld from workers wages would not only fill that hole, it would put the program on a sound footing “indefinitely.”
They really stick their fingers in their ears and sing “la la la la la! I can’t hear you!” when it is pointed out to them that $4.5 trillion is about the same cost, over the same period of time, of permanently extending the Bush tax cuts to the top 2% of earners.
There’s more. And you really should care.