White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Social Security is one entitlement program that should be addressed on a “separate track.”
“We should address the drivers of the deficit and Social Security currently is not a driver of the deficit,” Carney told reporters today. The senior retirement program is solvent for another 21 years, at which time recipients could see a reduction in benefits. — CBS
This isn’t just wrong; it’s a deliberate attempt to deceive the American people.
Don’t believe that?
Well, let’s present a few relevant facts and let people make their own decision about whether Carney is right.
Fact #1) Money paid into Social Security isn’t held in a lockbox or separated out from the general funds in the Treasury in any way. In other words, if you pay Social Security taxes and income taxes, the money goes to exactly the same place and is used in exactly the same way.
Fact #2) None of the money previously paid into Social Security has been put into a trust fund, saved or set aside in any way. Put another way, every single last dollar that has ever been paid into Social Security has already been spent. That means all the money that is paid out for the program has to either come from the current year’s tax receipts or it must be borrowed.
Fact #3) Since 2010, the Social Security program has been paying out more money than it takes in. Although fluctuations in the economy may have some bearing on the program’s health, the program is projected to stay in the red long term and there will be a progressively larger spread between the amount the program takes in and pays out.
Fact #4) When people talk about a “Social Security trust fund” or the program being “solvent for another 21 years,” all they mean is that if we hadn’t already spent all the money that had been contributed, that’s how long it would have lasted before it ran out. Of course, that money is all gone because we already spent it and as mentioned, all money for the program either has to come out of this year’s tax receipts or it has to be borrowed.
If that sounds like a solvent and healthy program that we don’t have to worry about long term, then there are some people at Enron who wish they’d had you on the jury when they went on trial.