Commentary: Stop borrowing from dedicated Social Security Trust Fund money
This high finance business is driving the average American crazy. Imagine, the United States Congressional Budget Office is telling us we can expect a whopping $232 billion fiscal surplus by the end of this September, and by the year 2010, that s...
This high finance business is driving the average American crazy. Imagine, the United States Congressional Budget Office is telling us we can expect a whopping $232 billion fiscal surplus by the end of this September, and by the year 2010, that surplus forecast is being set at $2.2 trillion.
Now, plug in the growing surpluses in Social Security Trust Fund deposits, and the overage is estimated to more than double to $4.5 trillion. How can politicians look us straight in the eye and tell us to beware of declining Social Security and Medicare benefits when the figures don't lie. Oh, by the way, liars figure. Just thought we would throw that into this puzzle.
The surplus figures illustrated above are indeed estimates, and are certainly not cast in concrete. Murphy's Law reminds us that anything can go wrong and usually does, so don't get elated over all this. There is definitely a need for some problem solving of major proportions accompanied by all this razzle-dazzle.
What seems to be going on here is an emphasis on the growing demand for more federal government in our lives. The politicians, yes Democrats and Republicans alike, are fretting over ways to spend down this impending surplus by focusing on improving entitlement programs on one hand and offering tax cuts on the other.
Implied tax cuts for the rich are being targeted politically by the Democrats, and ways to improve the yield on growing tax receipts seem to be a Republican theme. But plugging the ongoing leak in the Social Security and Medicare dikes reflects no clear policy coming from either Democrat Al Gore or Republican George Bush; just more political rhetoric void of a realistic long-range fiscal policy.
We have a simple solution, but it seems to be too simple. Leave those dedicated funds alone. Stop borrowing Social Security Trust Fund money to finance other phases of government by replacing actual cash with government IOUs that somehow never really get paid back. Naw, if that became policy, the politicians would have to tighten their belts in other areas.
What we have here is a serious need to establish a bipartisan policy regarding the use of Social Security Trust Fund receipts. Even though in the next 10 years Social Security fund surpluses are estimated to increase by over $2.3 trillion, the hue and cry of an implied deficit in Social Security will not go away.
Frankly, the politicians need a whipping boy to further their agendas, and Social Security scare tactics fit that bill nicely. Scare the dickens out of the people, that's the way to win elections.
Where we are going astray here reflects a diminished emphasis on local government solving mechanisms that generally are more cost effective and less bureaucratic than the Washington circuit with a cure for everything, as long as the well doesn't go dry. We need some answers, but it won't come from our national political operatives. Those folks, with their 10-second TV spots, are too busy trying to protect their own jobs at the expense of every American.