New Obama Chief Of Staff: Social Security Is Just Fine!

Posted: Jan 13, 2012 9:38 AM

MRC's Stephen Gutowski hops into the wayback machine and catches President Obama's incoming Chief of Staff engaging in some breezy denial of fiscal reality:


While speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in February 2011 President Obama's new Chief of Staff Jacob Lew claimed that "there is no need to deal with social security". He even went so far as to say that "dealing with it would have, at best, negligible impact" on the deficit.

Lew, who was until recently the president's top budget man (think about that), does manage to mumble a few words about non-specific future efforts to "work together" and resolve Social Security's longer-term solvency problems.  Sound familiar?  We ought worry ourselves over the program's multi-trillion-dollar unfunded liability, he assures us, adding that reforming the program would have "negligible impact" on our deficit and debt problems.  Interesting assertions. While it's true that Social Security represents an easier fix than, say, Medicare, Democrats have resisted serious efforts to do so with predictably hysterical demagoguery in recent years.  While liberals like Lew would have you believe Social Security is totally peachy and doesn't require urgent reform, the troubling actuarial writing is on the wall -- in mega-sized neon letters:

(1) Social Security went "cash negative" (paying out more money than it takes in) for the first time in 2010, years sooner than expected.

(2) The program's "cash negative" annual deficit is now projected to be permanent, according to its trustees.

(3) Social Security's trust fund -- such as it even exists -- will "expire" by 2036.  This doomsday moment continues to be revised forward, too.

(4) The current demographic trends are simply unsustainable.  A few illustrative examples, via Jim Pethokoukis:

Parting thought: Is committed liberal Jack Lew even remotely interested in controlling the national debt?  Pardon my skepticism, but this man was largely responsible for drawing up President Obama's calamitous 2012 budget, which would have added nearly $10 trillion to the debt over the next decade.  The blueprint also offered no meaningful guidance on curbing entitlement spending, which is overwhelmingly the biggest driver of our long term debt crisis.  In so doing, the White House budget team ignored even the recommendations of the debt panel Obama himself appointed.  I somehow get the feeling that these folks aren't serious about dealing proactively with our nation's deepening red ink; that task conflicts with their overwhelming zeal for expanding the size and scope of government at every level.  We're already paying the price.

UPDATE - In unrelated Lew news, Obama's incoming COS made quite a bit of money with a Bain-style leveraged buyout firm.  Will Obama demagogue the hell out of him, too?  Nah.  He's a Democrat!  They're allowed to be super-rich.