Friday, March 18, 2011

Durbin Agrees With Me On Social Security

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois agrees with me that Social Security doesn't have anything to do with the nation's current fiscal problems. (See my recent post on the topic.) In an interview with NPR's Robert Seigel, Durbin said that

"the Social Security system, as it currently exists, is one of the most solvent funds in our government. And those who want to turn the spotlight on Social Security I hope are doing it with the best of intentions and not confusing the obvious."

Unfortunately, as I have said, they are indeed either confusing the obvious or being ideologically opportunistic. Whatever the explanation, they are wrong.

Durbin agrees with me that of the three big "entitlements" (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) that are usually mentioned in discussions of the nation's fiscal difficulties, Social Security is by far the least problematic.

"I always say that dealing with Social Security and its future is simple math. Medicare is advanced calculus because we're dealing with health care costs and a lot of baby boomers are going to show up and need expensive health care. But the point I want to make is when they keep banging away at Social Security, remember what we did in 1983 [through the Greenspan commission -mb] has worked with the benefits and revenues that we took into consideration, and it is solvent, with every payment as promised to 2037. Should we be concerned beyond that? You bet. But let's not mix it up with today's deficit issue."

Meanwhile, Republicans, as they are wont to do, continue to misrepresent the situation. Said Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma:

"The fact is, is $2.8 trillion was stolen from Social Security. The money was spent. It's broke. And we're going to have to fund 2.8 trillion over the next 20 years just to make the payments that we've got. I think most people would think we ought to fix that."

Coburn contends the trust fund money was "stolen" because it was invested in U.S. Government bonds. That logic only works if you believe the U.S. Government has stolen from every investor who has purchased its bonds.

Republicans well know that if you repeat a thing long enough, it will become entrenched in the common lore. That's why Rand Paul could say, to good effect:

"Most young people acknowledge that it's broken—it's broken so badly that the only way we fix it, and the only way it can continue, is we have to look at the eligibility."

Acknowledge? I assure you that most young people know nothing factual about the solvency, funding or future prospects of Social Security. Neither do most old Republicans.

This is important stuff. Every citizen should try to understand Social Security's future and funding. Some of my previous posts might help. See: Why Social Security Is Not The Problem, Trust Fund Redux: A Parable, Stating The Obvious, and Trusting the Fund: Can we rely on the government's Social Security nest egg?.

Copyright (C) 2011 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved