• Why Social Security?

    I’ve been busy so I probably missed something that explains this: why is Social Security reform in the news now? Is it because of Alan Simpson? Is it because a huge health reform bill has already passed this year? Is it election year politics? What?

    Whatever the reason, I think it is instructive to keep in mind the relative size of Social Security’s financial problems with that of social health programs.

    • SS is on pace for a 25% automatic benefit cut in 2037 once all the Treasury bills are tapped out. The Commission is trying to find a compromise including tax hikes (which I abhor) and benefit cuts. But if Democrats are going to play their typical election-year games of Lucy and the football, they might as well go home now.

      And, by the way, if we can’t address the entitlement issue of transferring funds from workers to relatively affluent seniors, we’ll never – ever – be able to work on Medicare reform.

      • @Eric Lindholm – Yes, we can walk and chew gum. But we’re not even doing that. We’re tripping and choking on gum. If we were to actually address the far bigger and more imminent budget problem that health care presents we’d have plenty of money to tackle the far smaller and more distant SS problem.

    • This is one of the great mysteries of life. Anyone who is serious about the US debt should be talking about Medicare/Medicaid issues almost full time. Anyone who is serious about smaller government, should be focused on this. Yet, it is essentially ignored by the right. Instead we get offered cuts in foreign aid or the NEA. I guess I can understand a certain amount of fatigue setting in on discussing these topics, but they are too important to let pass.


    • My (recent) favorite was hearing John Boehner make a stump speech (for Speaker of the House) that patriotically proclaimed that we have to cut “non-defense” spending. I really don’t understand how these guys can sleep at night, pandering to voters in tis fashion.


    • Yes, the Social Security reform question is a diversion tactic on the part of the GOP. It is one of their favorites. Putting SS money into the stock market was George W. Bush’s only major domestic agenda push.
      I only find the whole conversation commingled at a personal level as 2037 is the year I turn 70. Eric Lindholm is right that there is a knowledge of
      the intergenerational money shift going on. Generally people younger than 45 who can look

      up from student loan debt or house foreclosure or being deployed in Afghanistan or their children being deployed don’t think Medicare will exist when they retire.
      Austin, can you please please point me to where on your blog(s) you address means testing for Medicare and why this has been deemed something that is a non-starter? Why not make the wealthy spend down a percentage of assets up to $2,000,000.00 before becoming eligible or some such idea?