Friday, February 04, 2005

New frame for FDR's masterpiece

Why don't the Democrats stop reacting with 2018 this and 2052 that and just say, "Social Security has enough money in the bank to pay benefits higher than current levels for as long as we want it to."?!

Let's pretend that the Social Security Administration's predictions are unbiased and honest. We all know that the SSA says Social Security is able to pay all planned benefits through 2042. And we've heard the bit about how, after that, S.S. will still be able to pay benefits that are higher in real dollars than it pays today. But that second piece is never quantified. One expert analysis actually says, "Even after 2042 the program would always be able to pay retirees a higher benefit (in today's dollars) than what current retirees receive." This sounds like an infinite-horizon statement; I thought, could it really be true that under current plans and projections, S.S. will be able to pay higher inflation-adjusted amounts for as long as we can foresee??

I wanted an official evaluation of some kind. The SSA apparently can't be bothered to predict what benefit amounts would be paid out after the trust fund is spent. But the Congressional Budget Office did. And they said the same thing: "Trust-fund-financed benefits are projected to fall by nearly 20 percent in the year the trust funds are exhausted but then resume their increase as earnings grow. Even with that drop, future retirees would earn higher real median benefits than today's retirees." Yowza!

Why don't the Dems use a rallying cry like this?


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