Monday, August 25, 2008

Fred Hiatt Thinks We Need To Fix Social Security (Part 1)

The unsigned editorial, "Social Security On Ice" is subtitled, "The presidential candidates appear eager to avoid a serious debate about how to fix it," which is as much as one needs to know.

As Hilzoy pointed out (and I reiterated) the other day, the CBO has just stated the following facts about Social Security:
1) The expected date of the Trust Fund's exhaustion has moved back to 2049, over four decades away. (In other words, over the past 15 years, the expected date of exhausting the Trust Fund has gotten further away from the present, rather than closer.)
2) Even if those reserves get exhausted, benefits supportable by ongoing Social Security tax revenues after that time will be greater, adjusted for inflation, than they are now.
3) The expected 75-year shortfall amounts to 0.38 percent of GDP, or 1.06 percent of taxable payroll.

And let me add one more:

4) The CBO says there's about a 25% chance that the youngest Baby Boomer will turn 100 before the Trust Fund is exhausted. (Social Security was designed as a pay-as-you-go program, which would work fine if our population grew at a steady rate. The whole point of having a Trust Fund on top of the regular tax revenue was to deal with the bulge in the U.S. population distribution known as the Baby Boom.)

But the Washington Post is fixated on 'fixing' Social Security, whether it needs it or not, whether it's urgent or not. Last year, the WaPo commenced a series of 'ideas primary' editorials. Five of the first 15 addressed, yep, the need to fix Social Security. They're obsessed.

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