February 9th, 2005


The Great Social Security Swindle

From Bush's first State of the Union address, Feb 27, 2001:
"To make sure the retirement savings of America's seniors are not diverted to any other program, my budget protects all $2.6 trillion of the Social Security surplus for Social Security, and for Social Security alone."

How long does that promise last? Not very (PDF). According to the Congressional Budget Office in 2002: "Without the tax cuts, the budget would not invade the Social Security Trust Fund surplus. According to the OMB’s July estimates, the President’s $1.5 trillion tax cut of last year, plus the extra $541 billion of tax cuts proposed in July and related debt service, exceed $1.968 trillion. This is the amount of the Social Security Trust Fund that OMB acknowledges it will have to borrow and spend to run the government."

Now, in 2005, that surplus is entirely gone. Or rather, it isn't. Social Security is currently taking in more than it pays out, and is projected to do so until 2020. This surplus was intended to take care of the demographic shift towards doddering old Baby Boomers, but now all of the trust fund has already been spent, and the continuing annual surpluses are being immediately spent on non-Social Security items in the budget, rather than being stored in the now-empty trust.

Of course, one might blame these budget problems on the Republican-controlled Congress who actually pass the budget. On the other hand, W has exercized his veto power exactly zero times to eliminate wasteful spending.

I'm so comforted to hear that Bush has a plan to fix Social Security.

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?