Most Harmful Program: Social Security

“We don’t have anyone who speaks for the Constitution.”

That is what a refreshingly candid spokesman for the office in the Department of Labor that oversees the affirmative action program for federal contractors told us last week when we asked to be directed to the language in the Constitution that authorizes his program.

It was a better answer than the one the Medicaid people gave us. When asked which words in the Constitution authorized Medicaid, a spokesman said, “Title 19 of the Social Security Act.”

Speaking of which, the Social Security Administration did not respond when we asked where the Constitution authorized Social Security.

It is understandable SSA would have a hard time finding an answer. The Constitution does not authorize a compulsory federal pension program for seniors.

Unfunded Liabilities

Perhaps that’s one reason the judges for this year’s HUMAN EVENTS list of the Ten Most Harmful Government Programs voted Social Security No. 1.

For each of the last four years, HUMAN EVENTS has asked a panel of distinguished public policy experts and scholars to develop this list for us. This year, 38 panelists participated. They ranged from Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC’s “Kudlow and Company,” to Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, to FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, to Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright, to Center for Immigration Studies Director Mark Krikorian, to George Mason University Professor of Economics Walter Williams.

Each judge was asked to nominate a few programs for the list. We then sent them ballots listing the nominated programs. They ranked their choices 1 through 10, with No. 1 being the program they believed to be “most harmful.” A program earned 10 points for each No. 1 vote it received, 9 points for each No. 2 vote, and so on. The program with the highest aggregate score — Social Security — was given the No. 1 position on this year’s list, and next year will be retired into the Government Program Hall of Shame. When the ballots were tallied, we phoned spokesmen for the federal agencies responsible for each program that made the list to see if they could point to the constitutional language, if any, that authorized the program.

This year’s list shows a definite trend: Our judges don’t like the federal government’s two largest entitlement programs. After Social Security, Medicare was voted the No. 2 Most Harmful Government Program. If not reformed, Social Security and Medicare together will confront taxpayers with $32 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years.

Click here for the full list of the 10 Most Harmful Government Programs.