3/24/2005

The latest misleading info on Social Security

From the Center for American Progress:
The trustees report on the financial state of Social Security was released yesterday but you don't need to read it to understand the most important part of the ongoing debate: President Bush's privatization plan makes Social Security's financial problems worse. And despite what you may have read in your local newspaper this morning, Social Security is not going broke in 2041. Rather, according to the most recent Social Security trustees report, the program will be able to pay full benefits to all beneficiaries until that date without any reforms. (Five years ago, the trustees predicted that the program would be able to pay out full benefits until 2037, so – despite the scare tactic by those eager to privatize the program – its financial condition has actually been improving.) Keep in mind the following: There are five trustees, three from the Bush administration and two who are independent. The two independent trustees – Republican Thomas R. Saving and Democrat John L. Palmer – weren't invited to the press conference announcing the release of the new report. Apparently, they weren't on message. Saving and Palmer noted that, over their five year tenure, the finances of Social Security have improved. According to Saving and Palmer, the more pressing issue is how to affordably meet our obligation to provide health care to the poor and the elderly in the coming decades. American Progress released its plan to do so yesterday, in the context of a fully-financed universal health care plan. President Bush has no plan...Also, the Bush administration is ignoring the five-year trend and focusing on the fact that the predicted exhaustion date for the trust fund is one year earlier (2041) than last year (2042). Treasury Secretary John Snow said, "the report underscores the fact that the longer we wait, the more difficult the problem becomes." There is a big problem with that argument. President Bush is traveling around the country telling people the Social Security trust fund doesn't exist. For example, on Monday Bush said, "some of you may think there's what they call a Social Security trust.... But that's not how it works ... what's left is an empty IOU." Snow's rhetoric, while irresponsibly inflammatory, reveals that what Bush is saying isn't true. If the trust fund was a fantasy, a change in its exhaustion date would have no impact on the program. The fact is, the Social Security trust fund is real – backed by the full faith and credit of the United States – and will help ensure the program can pay full benefits for decades.

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