“Social Security did not create the economic problem or the budget deficit. Wall Street and other government spending did. But the opponents of Social Security don’t want to pay back all the money that was borrowed from Social Security, including the interest earned. Instead they want to cut Social Security benefits.”
Former Michigan Senator Don Riegle’s in-depth analysis of the financial state of Social Security for the Huffington Post is a detailed timeline of events leading to the funding crisis facing Social Security–but not the one many of our elected officials would like you to believe.
There are as many takes on why Social Security is struggling as there are clouds in the sky. A lot of these explanations revolve around some massive failure on the part of the program itself: rampant fraud, reckless and unfunded benefit expansion, bloated costs, and driving up the nation’s deficit, to name a few.
But Riegle–like many Social Security supporters–believes this is just a smear campaign against a program some in the government love to scapegoat for budgetary woes.
And a program our elected officials LOVE to tap for funds when money gets tight.
As Riegle explains in much greater detail, Social Security is the victim of a two-pronged attack, both of which are more the fault of larger spending and economic issues than Social Security itself.
The first is our government’s long history of using Social Security surpluses built over time in preparation for increased demographic pressure to pay for everything BUT Social Security.
According to Riegle, this long-term borrowing with interest from the Trust Fund now makes Social Security the largest single holder of U.S. debt–a debt that has grown so large that the government either can’t or doesn’t want to pay it back.
The second is a character assassination. Given so much debt is owned by Social Security, it’s easy to point to the Trust Fund and call it a massive drag on the national deficit instead of looking to the government spending that’s yanking money out of Social Security and creating that debt.
Simply put, Social Security is being made to take the fall for the very behavior that’s hurting it.
Ultimately the purpose of these attacks, Riegle says, are to prime the public for cuts to a widely beloved program–if not eliminating it entirely–and provide cover for poor budgeting and over-spending.
It’s a little on the long side, but definitely an interesting read. Check the blog out in full right here.