The Social Security Problem - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Social Security Problem

Today’s trustees’ reports for Social Security and Medicare contain more bad news. Both programs are projected to run out of cash earlier than previously thought, with Medicare running out of funds in 2024 and Social Security in 2036. 

The funds available to Social Security, however, are essentially IOUs from the government to itself, and don’t represent available resources. The immediate fact is that in 2010, the Social Security program spent $49 billion more than it took in through payroll taxes, and that deficit is expected to be $46 billion. 

In other words, from the taxpayers’ perspective, Social Security is running a cash-flow deficit now, and is expected to continue doing so indefinitely. 

So while Social Security defenders like Sen. Harry Reid may be right in some abstract, technical sense that the program doesn’t face any pressing crisis, the practical reality is that Social Security is putting pressure on the overall budget right now. 

There are plenty of ways that the government could consolidate its finances without touching Social Security, but as it starts contributing to the deficit it’s worth remembering that Social Security is, currently, the single largest spending item in the federal budget. 

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