(By Khristian, emailed to me)
Yesterday a Senate sub-committee held hearings on Social Security. They heard testimony from both the Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Both of these fella's agreed that Social Security was not in any immediate danger.
For a moment, let's put a pin in that particular topic and come back to it.
What struck me was the fact that in all the discussion of Social Security and protecting it and why the President's plan is no good, I haven't really heard anyone talk about the Social Security beneficiaries that are collecting survivor or disability benefits.
When the President said, "...if you're 55 and over, Social Security will not change..." he made absolutely NO mention of these people. It's been almost two days since The State Of The Union and I've heard far more about that hug in the First Lady's booth than I have about what, if anything, will be done to ensure the benefits of those Americans who have come to depend upon Social Security because of a disability or a death in the family.
Where are the Democrats on this issue? I like elderly people just as much as the next guy, but the President clearly stated that they are NOT going to be affected by this plan. Now if he's lying and we can prove that then fine but I think a far better strategy is to force him to talk about exactly what will happen to those people who have lost the ability to walk or see. I think it's worth it to try and challenge the right's sense of RIGHT by asking what it is they plan to do about these people who have lost loved ones and now depend on this kind of Social insurance plan that mom or dad paid into.
David Walker, the Comptroller General of the GAO testified under oath that the mistake of the 1983 Social Security reforms were simple. They [The reforms] didn't make Social Security solvent in perpetuity. He believes that we can and should take this opportunity to make Social Security a self sufficient entity. Furthermore, he said that there is NO crisis. Even if we did nothing at all the government would always be collecting enough money to pay people something. The figure seems to vary but Mr.. Walker believed that even if no action is taken, somewhere around 2042 or so we will be paying out about seventy cents on the dollar to retirees. I should note that he did not advocate inaction. Mr.. Walker simply said that the program would not "Go broke".
He also testified that for many young Americans Social Security is NOT a promise they believe in...Most, according to his findings, are discounting the system much more than they should. In other words, most people in their 20's and 30's are not counting on the government to come through for them on any kind of real level with regards to retirement.
He also said that Social Security does not exist in reality as any kind of Trust in the traditional and professional sense of the word. "It's a sub-account..." he said. Basically, the only thing in the Trust right now are IOU's that have the full faith and credit of the US behind them, but no real economic or accounting value. So in about 2018 the US will either have to break its word to itself, come up with the cash or we will have pretty much dismantled the system by then and the issue will be moot. (That last sentence was more my opinion than Mr.. Walker's analysis)
The only crisis here that I can see is that the current administration thinks that the Government shouldn't have to pay back the money it owes to the trust. I think they want Social Security to basically die and that it's worth it to them to pay the current generation of retirees off.
1) Disability and Survivor benefits.
2) What Crisis? (See GAO and CBO figures and analysis)
3) If the President agrees (see the State Of The Union) that the Private Accounts [see what I did there? I called them Private instead of Personal] aren't enough on their own, then why is he ONLY talking about them? Either he has some kind of Secret Plan or he doesn't really have a PLAN.