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November 27, 2012

Social Security Should Already be “Off The Table for Decades”

Posted in: social security

There exist a school of thought that Liberals should accept Social Security benefit cuts to get the issue off the table. Kevin Drum is one of its biggest proponents:

Quite right. On Social Security, I continue to hold the unpopular view that liberals would be well served if they could make a deal. Raise the income cutoff to get more revenue, change the inflation formula to cut benefits a bit, toss in a few other smallish items that would be phased in over 20 years, and you’re done. Social Security would be off the table for decades.

The problem, of course, is that this has nothing to do with the deficit over the next few decades, which means there’s really no reason to make it a precondition for a deficit deal. So even though I’m in favor of a deal, I can’t really think of any good reason to do it now.

What I find so deeply wrong about this idea is that given Social Security current finances it should already be off the table for decades. According Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees report, the Social Security trust fund will last until 2033 and ever after that the program will be able to pay out 75 percent of benefits for a century. That is over two decades of solvency!

To give you an idea of how long that is, many of the people who will be paying until Social Security in 2033 have not been born yet. The majority of Senators currently concern trolling about Social Security long term fiscal standing will likely be dead long before the trust fund is projected to be exhausted.

Why anyone thinks 30, 40 or 50 years of projected solvency will take Social Security “off the table” when 20 years of solvency hasn’t is beyond me.

The fact that Social Security is a solid financial footing has never in the past stopped opponents from gunning for it.


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