Bruce Webb and Barkley Rosser and Social Security

Post lifted from Barkley Rosser at Econospeak

How Bruce Webb And I Helped Save Social Security (Maybe)

A few days ago Obama was quoted as saying that “getting entitlement spending under control” would be part of the effort to deal with budgetary problems. Most think he is focusing on getting rising medical care costs under control, which was part of his platform. But the question of maybe he might do something with or to social security has arisen, and with Larry Summers whispering in his ear, who wanted to go after the program under Bill Clinton, this may be worrisome. As it is during the campaign, Obama opposed any cuts in benefits or moves to privatization, with his only proposal being to possibly implement fica taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year starting in 2019, if the program needs financial shoring up at that time, with the widely publicized mid-range forecast of the system having that being a year or so after the program is scheduled to start running annual deficits rather than the (large) surpluses it has been running, and will continue to run forever if the very unpublicized low-cost scenario comes to pass.

This is where Bruce Webb and I came in last spring. While the system did not do so last year and certainly will not this year, in a majority of years over the past decade it has done better than that low cost scenario, raising the likelihood that the system may in fact never run a deficit. It may not need any fixing ever, and is just fine as it is. Ain’t broke and don’t need no fixin’. Initially Obama was proposing to implement his added fica tax immediately after taking office. At a certain point, Bruce and I composed a memo laying out the above facts and some others that was sent through channels I shall not discuss to the highest levels of the Obama campaign. Soon thereafter came the change in position to move this proposed change off to 2019, although this decision may have had little to nothing to do with our memo. But I still hold to the position of that memo and hope that Obama is not listening too closely to Summers now on this matter. The system is doing just fine and should be left alone as it is for the duration of his presidency, however long it proves to be.

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