Updated Below with just found information!
Republican’s have consistently lied about Social Security and for many years. As with most of their lies, they come to believe them after repeating them enough. We’ve all known liars who are sociopathic and truly believe their own lies, well, I put a lot of the GOP in that category because it’s hard to explain how they can continue the lie, even in the face of the actual facts.
Social Security is not “on-budget” and has no effect on the deficit or the national debt. People pay in and people draw on it. There have been many accounting gimmicks used over the years to use Social Security surpluses to hide the actual debt for any given year. Go here for a detailed history of Social Security, it’s interesting to read if you are a total geek like me. Here is a summary of Social Security and it’s “on-budget” and “off-budget” status…(emphasis mine)
So, to sum up:
1- Social Security was off-budget from 1935-1968;
2- On-budget from 1969-1985;
3- Off-budget from 1986-1990, for all purposes except computing the deficit;
4- Off-budget for all purposes since 1990.
Finally, just note once again that the financing procedures involving the Social Security program have not changed in any fundamental way since they were established in the original Social Security Act of 1935 and amended in 1939. These changes in federal budgeting rules govern how the Social Security program is accounted for in the federal budget, not how it is financed.
It’s interesting to note that during Reagan’s term, they did a hybrid approach, make it off-budget except for computing the deficit, nice little trick Ronnie and Company.
Another lie being perpetuated by both Republicans and Democrats has to do with the life expectancy of Americans and whether it has increased very much over time. This is new information to me, I have to admit, but it makes complete sense. Thanks to Steve Benen once again for his great writing and insight, from Steve…(emphasis mine)
After Simpson made some bizarre remarks about retirement ages and the history of Social Security, Grimm pressed the former senator on his understanding of the basics.
“HuffPost suggested to Simpson during a telephone interview that his claim about life expectancy was misleading because his data include people who died in childhood of diseases that are now largely preventable. Incorporating such early deaths skews the average life expectancy number downward, making it appear as if people live dramatically longer today than they did half a century ago. According to the Social Security Administration’s actuaries, women who lived to 65 in 1940 had a life expectancy of 79.7 years and men were expected to live 77.7 years.”
I don’t think a lot of Democrats even know that fact, to be honest. I often hear them say that we have to do something because people are living longer. When in reality, they are only living slightly longer because averaging things out tends to skew reality and give people like Republican’s a kernel of misinformation that they can run with.
The other big lie is that Social Security is in dire straights and something has to be done immediately to fix it. It just isn’t true, the latest estimates that I found say it is solvent for the next 27 years, nearly 3 decades. From Pacific Progressive…
Many policymakers and analysts are insisting that there is an urgent need to make major changes to Social Security. Their argument that long-term imbalances make the case for action now have even swayed some who consider themselves supporters of the program. A new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, calls attention to the fact that Social Security will be fully solvent for the next 27 years and any premature action to make changes to the program will have a severe impact on millions of near retirees.
“Misinformation about Social Security has led many to believe that Social Security is in immediate danger of insolvency” said Dean Baker, a co-director of CEPR and author of the report, “but the program will be fully solvent for almost three more decades. Furthermore, even if no changes are ever made, a child born in 2010 can expect to see a benefit that is more than 50 percent larger in real terms than what current retirees receive today.”
So don’t believe the “sky is falling” folks who are trying to create a false urgency in order to undo the social safety net that Americans have been relying on since it was implemented 70 plus years ago. I always have to think that these people must be extremely rich if they don’t see a need for Social Security for themselves, their parents and grandparents. Damn, it must be nice to be so comfortable that they don’t have to rely on Social Security when they retire. But to me the larger issue is how can they care so little about the people who aren’t rich and have paid into the Social Security trust fund their whole lives, counting on it for their later years. What sort of person is willing to hurt the seniors in our country who I was taught to take care of, respect, and who’s wisdom should be cherished.
I’m encouraged by the announcement yesterday by Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, when he said “he doesn’t think Congress will address Social Security as part of an effort to reduce government borrowing.” I would have preferred a more definite statement, but I’ll take that one. I wonder if the whiners in the Professional Left, who wasted so much time and energy bitching about the “cat-food commission” and their recommendations, will spend just as much time lauding the President and Democrats for not touching Social Security. Yea right!
Update: The People’s View has a post up responding to an Ezra Klein post that sheds more light on the above. I’ll just send you over their if you want to get into the minutia. There is more to the idea that people aren’t living that much longer. Go read it for a great analysis, albeit pretty deep, of Social Security. That’s a great site over there.