The Social Security Myth

Posted: Mar 26, 2010 7:11 AM
Back when we were all having a nice chat about what to do with social security in the Bush years, some accused conservatives of scare-mongering when they claimed that Social Security would be paying out more than it took in by 2017 and that it would be bankrupt by 2040.

Oh, if only those days were still around. Social Security will become insolvent this year and there's no "trust fund" around to bail us out. As Jacob Sullum puts it,

There's a trust fund? Well, no, not really... The government already has spent all of this money (and then some). All that is left in the "trust fund" is IOUs from one part of the government to another. And guess who has to make good on those IOUs? While there is budgetary significance to this accounting fiction (since Social Security cannot legally continue paying benefits after its notional reserve is officially exhausted), all this talk of a trust fund tends to obscure reality.

People like Paul Krugman on the Left have insisted that Social Security is but a few minor tweaks away from being fiscally sustainable, and besides, we don't have to worry about it for awhile.

The Social Security crisis is here, it's real, and it needs to be addressed now. The government's bipartisan theft of the "trust fund" means that insolvency comes soon.