Social Security

“Fixing Social Security is quite easy so why is it ignored? All Americans working and retired must share in the necessary changes

The most obvious answer is because politicians don’t tell the truth and Americans don’t want to hear the truth.

Any fix to make SS not only solvent but sustainable requires modest changes over several years and those changes must affect each and every American young and old. Done right there is even room to increase benefits to some degree.

But we are so mired in political acrimony nothing gets done. Our efforts are more focused on vilifying Paul Ryan and his limited ideas.

A year ago I wrote about the Social Security 2100 Act, in my opinion a good place to start fixing Social Security. It’s a Democratic idea so it has been ignored as has Social Security in general except by the likes of Sen Sanders who wants expanded benefits based on the false claim the program has a surplus and either doesn’t understand the system or intentionally misleads. The sad part is that so many Americans believe him.

Social Security cannot continue as it is. There is no need to turn it into a new welfare program. Changes can be modest over several years. But it never will be nor should it be the only source of Americans retirement income.

Here is the link to a previous Quinnscommentary post on this Act

https://quinnscommentary.com/2017/04/11/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-social-security-2100-act/

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3 replies »

  1. Just to reconfirm:

    The big bad news this year is that the taxpayer-paid interest on the promises to pay treasury bonds / notes is insufficient, when combined with payroll taxes, to fully fund the benefit payments. Not a surprise given the fact that Baby Boomers born in 1952 or earlier (maybe 1/3 of all boomers) have reached Social Security Normal Retirement Age 66 this year.

    What that means is that the nominal balance of Social Security trust funds will no longer grow, but will start to decline. Decline means that some of the treasury bonds/notes must start to be redeemed this year (meaning monies from the Treasury general funds, meaning either increased deficits/debt or higher taxes, or both).

    So, to continue making full benefit payments, the trust fund will be drawn down in 2018 and in future years, until reserves are exhausted sometime in 2032 – 2034.

    Have a nice day.

    Like

  2. The challenge here is the same as it was in 1983, the last time Social Security was “fixed” and made “sustainable”. Congress intends, then and now, to increase benefits to buy votes, and to delay the pain to future generations, those who are not yet eligible to vote, and those yet unborn.

    Until Congress confirms that they have promised more than they have authorized in taxes, and until they put in place taxpayer/beneficiary control over how to resolve the gap, the stalemate will continue. As I have repeatedly asserted here in your posts, and as you and I know from decades of corporate benefits activity, where workers/beneficiaries have some control over how to resolve an expense challenge, they will be much more accepting of a negative outcome.

    Keep in mind, the post in today’s WSJ (6/7/18)

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-treasury-market-is-having-a-senior-moment-1528307631?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

    “… Treasurys aren’t quite the collector’s item they used to be. On Tuesday, the trustees of Social Security and Medicare reported that, for the first time since 1982, the Social Security program’s expenditures will outstrip its income. The gap will be $1.7 billion this year (including interest income to the trust fund) and is projected to grow in the years to come, depleting the program’s nearly $3 trillion in reserves by 2034.

    For Treasury investors, this is a development that matters. That is because, up until now, Social Security’s surplus has been available for the federal government to spend in the form of interest-bearing debt owed to the fund. That cash isn’t counted as net government borrowing.

    FROM THIS POINT ON, … THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL NEED TO FIND EVER-INCREASING SLUGS OF CASH IN THE TREASURY MARKET TO MAKE UP THE SHORTFALL. …”

    In other words, either deficits will increase or taxes must rise to cover the federal spending previously financed by Social Security taxes.

    So, when I asserted in the past that there is no funding of the Social Security trust fund other than promises secured by future taxes, that day has now come… immediately after the Obama Administration increased spending to double our federal debt, and immediately after the Trump Administration effectively “doubled down” with new profligate spending and tax cuts.

    Since neither party seems interested in addressing the situation before insolvency is reached (and benefit cuts or tax increases must be implemented), expect the debate to continue until 2026 (Medicare) and 2032 – 2034 (Social Security).

    Anyone truly expect congress to do anything other than raise taxes or change Medicare and Social Security from an entitlement basis to either anti-poverty or needs-based/limited programs at that time?

    Liked by 1 person

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