by Dale Coberly
Eyes on the Prize
A Social Security summary.
We have had twenty years and a billion dollars spent by Pete Peterson and friends telling the people that Social Security is going broke and will create huge deficits that will kill the economy and be a crushing burden to the young. Peterson has funded an army of “non partisan experts” who tell the media what to say and what not to say about Social Security.
On the other side we have had Bruce Webb… who does all the hard work… showing that the reports of Social Security going broke are based on assumptions that seem unlikely. Moreover he has shown that each year since we have been treated to the “we must fix (cut) Social Security NOW” , “doing nothing now” has actually reduced the cost of any ultimate fix.
We have had professer Rosser show that even under the pessimistic assumptions Social Security with no changes at all will still be able to pay a benefit that is larger in real value than what retirees get today.
And we have had Coberly show that even under the Trustees projections… the ones that produce the “Five Trillion Dollar Unfunded Deficit!” (or Fifteen Trillion if you want to add up the cost out to “the infinite horizon”), the actual cost to each worker would be a raise of less than a dollar per week from time to time over the next seventy five years, and then no further increases after that.
And we should not forget that CBO has published an “option number three” that shows the cost of one way of fixing Social Security would be a payroll tax increase of one half of one tenth of one percent per year. One half of one tenth of one percent of an average worker’s pay today is forty cents per week, and the boss pays half of that.
Then, we have the good people who want to “fix Social Security” by taxing the rich… either by raising the cap, or by dedicating the estate tax to pay for Social Security. These people do not know, or do not understand that this is exactly what FDR was careful NOT to do. He did not want Social Security to be “the dole” “so that no damn politician can take it away from them.”
And we have the really bad people who want to fix Social Security by raising the retirement age. “It’s the obvious solution,” they say. ” After all, we are going to be living longer.” It never troubles them that if people can pay for their own retirement (with an extra forty cents per week per year) they may not want to work longer, or they may have other age related conditions that will not reduce their life expectancy but may make working painful. But people with jobs they like can’t imagine why working people might want to stop working for the boss and have a few years of freedom before they die.
And we have the strange people who tell us that paying BACK the money that Congress borrowed FROM Social Security… that is from the workers’ savings… will cause the country to collapse: we need to stiff the workers so the bankers can keep their million dollar bonuses for the excellent way they have been managing the economy.
And we have recently had the President and Congress, who decided that since we are facing a “looming deficit” the smart thing to do was to cut taxes. This way they have given you your retirement money to spend now, because they know an extra ten dollars a week spent at Wal Mart will mean more to you than an extra year of retirement.
And we have the eternal obfuscators who will come into any discussion and do everything they can to distract your attention from the basic fact:
Social Security is YOUR money. It doesn’t cost “the government” a dime. Social Security is the ONLY way most workers have to save their own money, safe from inflation and market losses, so they can retire at a reasonable age. And the cost of keeping this insurance is so small no one would even notice it, if it wasn’t for the Big Liars finding ways to make it seem like it was a huge number, or an “unfair” windfall to old people at the expense of the “young” who will never, of course, ever get old themselves.
I have done the math. So has CBO. The cost of keeping your Social Security insurance, just in case you do get old without getting rich, looks like about a forty cents per week increase in the payroll tax each year, while incomes are expected to go up about ten dollars per week each year.
Try to keep that in mind when the man in the suit is selling you snake oil.