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Surprise, surprise, the system is going broke

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Congress’ Raid Continues to Weaken Social Security

Surprise, surprise, the system is going broke

The Social Security trustees yesterday released their annual report on the state of the Social Security system.  Surprise, surprise, the system is going broke—faster than it was last year, no less—but what is Congress doing about it?  Nothing.

Most people ask themselves why a system that is running surpluses seems to keep losing money faster and faster every year that goes by.  The answer is quite simple: Congress is raiding your retirement.

Unfortunately, the surplus money that could be used to help fix the system is being spent on anything but retirement.  For years, Social Security’s “Trust Fund” has been poured into the federal government through creative accounting, resulting in a disingenuous representation of the program’s finances.

Every year, Congress takes the Social Security surplus and borrows it to itself.  It spends those surpluses on federal programs that have nothing to do with your retirement.  It then promises to pay the money back to itself—with interest!—at some future date.  That’s how Social Security is supposedly solvent for decades to come.

According to the bipartisan Social Security trustees (who were appointed by President Clinton), the system has a 97.5% chance that it will face permanent cash deficits starting in 2022.  They also report that the total amount of cash needed to fix the system has increased by $2.3 trillion, just since last year’s report.  It’s no wonder they have called upon Congress to take “timely and effective action” to fix the system now.  

In addition to Social Security’s problems, the report points out that the rest of the federal government is facing a funding crisis as the money raided from Social Security will begin to dry up in then next few years.  Very soon, Congress will no longer be able to raid retirement dollars to subsidize a bloated federal budget.  At that point, Congress will have to either begin cutting programs (some of which could be vital to our national security), or it will have to borrow. 

When I say borrow, I mean borrowing in addition to the billions of dollars Congress already borrows.  This will drive America even further into debt, to a level unprecedented by any other period in our history.

That’s where my generation comes in.  As the future workers of the America, we stand to suffer crippling taxes imposed by today’s government and its reckless fiscal planning.  The kind of irresponsible government behavior exemplified by the raid on Social Security will take its toll on an entire generation of citizens, many of who are not even old enough to vote. 

I believe it is immoral to burden future generations with such debt.  The only way my generation can truly save its Social Security money is through personal retirement accounts that we can legally own. 

Clearly, the problem is getting worse every year.  By stopping the raid and allowing workers to save part of their tax money now, we can take the first step toward fixing the system permanently.  If we did that, you can bet that next year’s Trustees report will look a whole lot better than this year’s.

Written By

Mr. Wetherille is a national director of Students for Saving Social Security.

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