Sunday, January 02, 2005

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall lays out the best explanation for what will happen when we reach the so-called "critical" date for social security, 2018.
A 'day of reckoning'?

Where to start? In addition to adopting rather dramatic language that reads like it comes right out of the privatization playbook, just what does 2018 represent?

The first thing worth noting is that there's nothing unexpected about this. Indeed, it is part of the plan under which Social Security's financing was restructured in the early 1980s. Payroll taxes were intentionally raised substantially over and above current needs so as to build a 'trust fund' that could be drawn down when the surge of baby-boomer retirements began early in the 21st century. In essence, babyboomers were asked to overpay into the system to create a reserve to cushion the stresses that would be created when their oversized generation retired.
Any rerporter assigned to cover the Social Security story should be required to do some homework on this subject. I don't know the whole story behind Social Security yet, and there are countless details that I will never fully know. Yet with even the little I do know I can tell that the administration's rhetoric is incorrect if not downright deceit. The media have not been much help in the matter in that they have done little research into whether the administration's claims are backed up by reality, or simply refer to administration "specialists" and members of pro-Social Security elimination groups.

A little investigation exposes a whole lot of rot. The AARP just became involved in the debate, so maybe that will force the administration to be a bit more truthfull in their assertions.

If the administration wishes to eliminate Social Security, fine, just be honest about it. Put it to the voters and let them decide. It is our money and our future. What they should not do is lie to the public about the situation. The system was designed to begin drawing down on the surplus in order to cover the extra burden of the retiring boomers. It was an excellent piece of foresight and should be lauded as why the system does work.

This along with several examples from Brad DeLong actually demonstrate that Social Security is a system that works the way it should, and within budget. Which is far more than can be said for many public policy projects.

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