Beware those who intentionally try to manipulate you with misleading information and outright lies

The Trump Administration is supposedly considering a Social Security payroll tax holiday. NOW APPARENTLY OFF THE TABLE, but there is a point to be made nevertheless.

The following is from a press release SocialSecurityWorks. It’s nonsense.

If the money lost in payroll contributions is replaced with general revenue, Social Security will still be a target. Currently, Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the deficit. Raiding its dedicated revenue is a set up to the claim that it must be cut in the name of reining in the debt!

You can have your own opinion about Social Security and it’s finances, but intentionally misleading people for political gain is inexcusable in my opinion.

A payroll tax holiday is at best a very debatable idea, but the above statement is designed to scare seniors and nothing else. Look at it logically.

Assume the tax holiday happens. As with the Obama plan, which did the same thing, the shortfall is replaced in the Social Security Trust from general revenue. Once there, the trust fund has no impact on the deficit, it’s not a recurring event and money cannot be taken from the trust except to pay benefits. So what is the it that must or can be cut?

Even if Social Security benefits were subsequently cut, which is never going to happen, there would be no affect on the deficit.

4 comments

  1. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office issued a report titled GAO-18-111SP, “The Nation’s Retirement System: A Comprehensive Re-evaluation Is Needed to Better Promote Future Retirement Security” (https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/687797.pdf).

    The report asserts: “The U.S. retirement system, and the workers and retirees it was designed to help, face major challenges. …Fundamental changes have occurred over the past 40 years to the nation’s current retirement system, made up of three main pillars: Social Security, employer-sponsored pensions or retirement savings plans, and individual savings. …there has been a marked shift away from employers offering traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans to defined contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k)s.”
    Importantly, they note: “The three pillars of the current retirement system in the United States are anticipated to be unable to ensure adequate benefits for a growing number of Americans due, in part, to the financial risks associated with certain federal programs. Social Security’s retirement program (Old-Age and Survivors Insurance): Beginning in 2035, this program is projected to be unable to pay full benefits.“

    They recommended, in part “Congress should consider establishing an independent commission to comprehensively examine the U.S. retirement system and make recommendations to clarify key policy goals for the system and improve how the nation promotes retirement security.”

    If there is a “retirement crisis” in America, it isn’t the result of less access to DB plans or the dominance of 401(k) plans. While it would be nice to see Congress create a national retirement policy, that isn’t it either. If we have a “retirement crisis,” it is the result of Americans’ failure to save and a government promise of Social Security benefits that are much greater than projected tax revenues.

    Failure to Save: Without exception, for the past 35+years, every American wage earner has had access to a tax preferred savings vehicle – the Individual Retirement Account. A worker age 25 in 1982, who contributed the maximum each year and earned 5 percent on his or her investments could retire at the Social Security Normal Retirement Age of 66 and use the combination of savings and Social Security to maintain his or her pre-retirement standard of living. Most wage earners have also had periods of employment where their employer sponsored a plan.

    Social Security Funding: In June 2017, the average Social Security benefit was $1,369. About 61 percent of retired workers count on Social Security to provide at least half of their monthly income. So, in 2035 (or earlier in our COVID-19 world), when the Trust funds are exhausted, without action, benefits may be reduced to match what can be financed by payroll taxes. (Actually, the various laws don’t provide for a reduction in benefits. Instead, the statutes provide for the continuation of payments, or at worst, a delay in payments – meaning that those who don’t receive their full benefit will get an IOU)
    .
    This is nothing new – it’s been known since 1983, which was the last time Social Security was reformed. See: https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TR/2017/tr2017.pdf

    Social Security Reform Since 1983:

    November 5th, 1993: President Bill Clinton, by Executive Order #12878, created the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement Reform (the Danforth Commission) to evaluate entitlement programs – specifically Social Security and Medicare. The Commission never reached consensus and couldn’t get all members to agree on even an Interim Report. Subsets of the commission members made their own proposals. None gained any traction, nor action. See: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=61571

    February 5, 2005: President George W. Bush made a reform recommendation to add personal accounts and change the COLA. These proposals triggered great criticism, and no action was taken. See: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/social-security/ See also: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2005/04/200504

    April 27, 2010: The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (often called Simpson-Bowles) met to recommend fiscal reform, including recommendations to reform Social Security. Despite widespread popular support, the report failed to get enough support to send it to Congress for approval.

    June 1, 2016: President Barack Obama, nearing the end of this second term, reminded us that Social Security’s finances needed strengthening. “We should be strengthening Social Security… it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned.” No proposal was ever made. See: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/01/remarks

    This 2017 GAO report echoes President Obama: “… (we) better ensure a secure and adequate retirement, with dignity, for all.” But, it offers no plan of action other than another committee.

    Retirement in America is a relatively new phenomenon. As recently as the 1960’s, only a handful of Americans successfully prepared for retirement. Very few had a retirement plan – defined benefit or defined contribution – and only a small minority of those workers vested, and only a subset of those who vested survived to receive the promised benefit. Due to the Depression and WWII, many had breaks in employment, which depressed their Social Security benefits. Most wage earners had minimal savings – few owned mutual funds or certificates of deposit. Most relied on passbook savings at their bank or savings and loan. Work was much more physical, blue collar. Just 50 years ago, retirement in America was very different; most worked until physically spent then “retired” to a mostly sedentary lifestyle and survived maybe as much as 10 or so years.

    Progress is being made. Workers are successfully retiring. Some are redefining retirement through second careers and phased retirement. Our voluntary, employer-sponsored retirement system deserves lots of credit – many plan sponsors made improvements after the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA 2006).

    So, the biggest risk to American’s retirement is our federal government’s failure to take action on Social Security and Medicare funding.

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  2. Yes, more than ever we must beware of those who intend to deceive.
    But lies work, and the truth often doesn’t.

    When former Republican Senator Allan Simpson and former Democrat Chief of Staff to President Clinton, Erskine Bowles, were tapped by President Obama to chair a committee to recommend fixes to Social Security, they came up with a report containing a number of excellent options. They both travelled the country after the report to generate interest in solving this large, looming problem.

    Result? President Obama dropped all mention of the committee he started. Republican congressional leadership likewise ignored the committee’s recommendations. Now, eight or nine years later, the financial condition of social security is worse.

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  3. Even if Social Security benefits were subsequently cut, which is never going to happen,(EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHO WILL BE MEANS TESTED) there would be no affect on the deficit. There, fixed it for you!

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