Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Security Is Not A Budget Issue

You can review the infectious, insidious discourse linking social security to our deficit problem here:
Social Security: It's All in the Adjectives | MyFDL

Meanwhile, much of the reaction to the President's just-released 2012 budget takes aim at the budget's failure to "tackle entitlements." The whipping boy, here, is Social Security. Legions of politicos and journalists who know better propagandize the claim that the deficit/debt cannot be resolved without cutting Social Security. Following the principle that if you say it often enough it becomes true, pundits and policymakers persist in pretending that Social Security is part of the general budget and is paid for from general funds. Just because you say the earth is flat doesn't make it so. Social Security is off-budget. It is self-financed, through the payroll tax. It has amassed a trust fund surplus, in fact, which provides a secure fiscal future for the program for some number of years (until 2037). Social Security will encounter solvency issues in a couple of decades, but these are not general budget issues and can be resolved by tweaking the program's financing mechanisms (such as by raising the income cap for the payroll tax).

The President himself fanned the hysteria about Social Security's role in the deficit when he appointed the Deficit/Debt Reduction Commission, selected enemies of Social Security as its chairs, and said everything was on the table, including Social Security. Today, he advances this idiocy further on the White House web page for his FY 2012 Budget. See, which offers an "Explore the Budget" tool that declares Social Security to be part of the budget -- 20% of expenditures, no less!

This is not mere misinformation. It is dangerous misdirection, fueling opportunistic assaults on Social Security.

No comments: