Friday, April 29, 2005

Setting the Stage: The "Problem"
As we dive into the details of Social Security overhaul and phase-out proposals, let's keep in mind what reality is driving this charge. We want Social Security to pay for itself. Payroll taxes of today provide benefits of today, in relation to the amount the recipient contributed, back when they were offering payroll taxes. The tax rates, the caps, the benefit level calculations are all designed to keep that system rolling and stable. This year, and for many more years into the future, more money will be coming in than is going out.

But, if we do nothing at all--nothing--Social Security intake will only be able to provide benefits at about 75% of the current levels starting in the year 2052 (some still use the outdated 2042, but that projection has been revised).

So if the system needs changing at all, it is only tweaks here and there to make up that difference. Why do I say "if"? because projections are very conservative and based on pretty pessimistic assumptions. That's why, for example, the projected end date can just be suddenly moved out another 10 years. Reality eventually catches up to the low-ball revenue estimates. So it's reasonable to think that doing nothing will push us even further into the future than 2052.

So, the President, the one who does nothing about global warming projections that may drown our coastal cities in 150-200 years; the one that does nothing about North Korea and Iran getting weapons that could threaten the very existence of Western Civilization; the one that has done nothing to fix the budget he has left in such disrepair that the public debt in 2050 will be a far greater concern than some social security shortfall. In other words, our President has paid no mind whatsoever to any number of legitimate looming catastrophes; and yet, this potential fender-bender, almost 50 years down the road, has consumed the first 100 days of his second term.

So, even if he comes up with a helpful way to avoid that trouble for the even 100 years beyond that, that doesn't make him not still a moron and pathetic President.

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