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Monday, March 07, 2005

Strib does Social Security

Posted by: Hammer / 2:49 PM

On Sunday, the Strib's Eric Black gave us an article on Social Security.

Deciphering the 'crisis' code:

If you're ever going to tune in to the debate over Social Security, this is the year to do it. ...

If you are just setting out to follow the subject, today and occasionally in the weeks ahead, this series will provide the basic facts and context you need (minus the name-calling and hype). For example, today's installment should clarify why everyone keeps talking about the years 2018 and 2042.

2018 is the projected year when the Social Security program starts paying out more than it takes in. It's the year when interest on the Social Security trust fund will first be used to pay benefits. 2042 is the year that the Social Security trustees project that the system will no longer be able to pay full, promised benefits. A Congressional Budget Office projection estimates that Social Security will not be able to pay full, promised benefits in 2052. Under both estimates, retirees would receive somewhere around 80% of promised benefits.

Black takes as much time to establish the premise as it takes to answer the limited questions he identifies. To be fair, Black goes on to ask a number of additional questions. He doesn't really answer any of the questions and features two privatizer experts to one non-privatizer. But, again, it's a basically fair review of the issue.

Except. Except that although Black has time and ink enough to last through a metaphysical deconstruction of "crisis", he doesn't ever get around to mentioning that if there is a crisis, the Bush plan does nothing to solve it. In fact, the Bush plan would exacerbate Social Security's relatively minor cash flow issue by introducing $15 trillion of new liabilities.

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