How to Safe Guard Social Security: Put People to Work & Expose the Lies

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In an article for FDL Action, Jon Walker cites a Gallup Poll that there are 150 million people around the world who would immigrate to the United States:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — About 13% of the world’s adults — or more than 640 million people — say they would like to leave their country permanently. Roughly 150 million of them say they would like to move to the U.S. — giving it the undisputed title as the world’s most desired destination for potential migrants since Gallup started tracking these patterns in 2007.

The relevant worth of the poll, argues Jon,

[..] because the annual Social Security Trust Fund report should be released today. As a result there will likely be much hyperventilating about how the Social Security trust fund is projected to run out of money in roughly 25 years, even though continuing payroll taxes would still be able to fund a high level of Social Security payments given current assumptions.

While the Administrators try hard to make their projections accurate, any very long term projections are inherently going to be somewhat unreliable. Trying to guess how many working Americans there will be and their average incomes in the year 2030 is basically impossible.

While current demographic trends point in one direction, it is completely possible that at some time in the next decade we could adopt policies that would increase the number of working Americans – and the collection of payroll taxes to support Social Security – well above current assumptions.

Richard (RJ) Eskow gives us the headlines that we won’t see:

“Social Security Trust Fund Even Larger Than It Was Last Year”

“Growing Wealth Inequity Will Lead to Social Security Imbalance Later This Century”

“For-Profit Healthcare Poses Threat to Medicare, Federal Deficit, and Overall Economy in Coming Decades”

“Public Consensus Grows For Taxing Wealthy to Restore Long-Term Entitlement Imbalance”


He chastises Stephen Ohlemacher at the Associated Press for touting the  standard doom and gloom spin on the state of Social Security and Medicare with this erroneous headline,  “Aging workforce strains Social Security, Medicare”:

Ohlemacher’s article was occasioned by the latest report from the Trustees of the fund that handles Social Security and Medicare, which will be released today. He writes that “both programs (Social Security and Medicare) are on a path to become insolvent in the coming decades, unless Congress acts, according to the trustees.”

Unfortunately the piece provides no context for the use of the term “insolvent,” which most people associate with bankruptcy or running out of funds. As Sarah Kliff explains, nobody is suggesting that either of these programs will ever run out of funds. And when programs have ongoing sources of income, the temporary absence of a surplus isn’t the same as “insolvency” as that term is commonly understood.

In fact the report will clearly state that Social Security’s Trust Fund has grown to $2.7 trillion dollars, and that Social Security will be able to pay all its benefits in full for a quarter of a century. After that, if no changes are made, it will be able to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits without changes.

Nor is the “aging workforce” the cause for any of today’s concerns, despite the millions of dollars in advocacy money meant to make us believe that it is. We’ve known about the baby boom ever since it ended in the 1960’s, and it was fully addressed in past adjustments to the program. That’s why the program was considered perfectly solvent for the foreseeable future after the Greenspan Commission raised the retirement age and made its other adjustments in the 1980s.

Media Matters points out the how the MSM gives a hand to the “Ponzi” lie ever since Texas Gov. Rick Perry “described the program as a “Ponzi scheme”:

Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. People who call it a Ponzi scheme are not “wrong but partially right,” they’re not “called wrong by critics” — they’re just wrong.

A Ponzi scheme is a criminal endeavor that involves opaque financial dealings that promise investment returns when none or next to none actually exist. Social Security’s finances are crystal clear, and the interest generated by its trust fund is quite real.

A Ponzi scheme eventually collapses. According to last year’s report, Social Security can continue as it is, paying full benefits for nearly 25 years, and 77 percent of promised benefits thereafter. [..]

The same false attack is likely to continue as long as newspapers insist on publishing “he said-she said” stories alongside conservative columnists intent on undermining Social Security for ideological reasons.

These false attacks are reinforced by much read and respected newspapers and on-line news sites who report comments by Social Security critics without ever challenging the reality if the accusations. Conservative hacks, like Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post  and syndicated columnist, John Stossel, continue to repeat this lie ad nauseum without correction by the editorial boards of their newspapers. Truth and facts merely get in the way.

As both writers and Media Matters point out, the solution to preserving Social Security and Medicare as we know it, is the increase the number of people in the work force (you know, real jobs), closing the income inequality gap, and either lifting the payroll tax cap or eliminating it altogether making all income subject to the tax. You know simple real solutions, not hand wringing, misleading spin and lies.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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