Saturday, January 5, 2013

Truth Be Told

Many politicians (mostly Republican) call Social Security an "entitlement."  Whether they use this term from ignorance or from a malicious desire to make the system seem undeserved I don't know.  It's not accurate but the term has stuck and is repeated in debate after debate.  No wonder nothing gets done in Washington.  They are trying to fix  something that doesn't need repair.
Social Security is an investment.  Money is taken from payrolls to fund it.  Money is taken from payrolls for other investments, i.e., pension plans, health insurance, 401k's.  The difference is that investing in Social Security is required.  However the money taken from one's salary is returned later in life, and, according to the critics, more is returned than was invested.  Which sounds like a wise investment.
Social Security is often tied to the debate about national debt as if it were a major cause of that problem.  It isn't.  In fact, the Social Security Trust Fund has been used by various Presidents (beginning, I believe, with LBJ) to hide budgetary failures and weaknesses.  In 1983 President Reagan and Congress reworked the System in order to assure the Trust would be funded for the Baby Boom generation.  They did this by raising taxes on the middle class and the working class.  Successive Presidents used these taxes like income taxes and funded the General Budget with them to conceal the real size of the deficit.
 There is enough money in the Fund today to keep Social Security going till 2038,  another 25 years, if nothing more were done.  There could be much more if the IOU's were to be prepaid.

In 2010 and 2011, there were no increases in Social Security checks.  One would think that there would be a visible reduction in government debt after two years of no change in payments  IF Social Security was a factor in the problem of debt.

Now there is talk about re-working the formula for cost of living increases for Social Security investors in order 'to save the System.' .  President Obama has suggested this also.  Currently the rate used for this year's increase is 1.7 percent.  This is too high?  After two years of no increase at all?  Give me a break.

This year my increase is $18 per month.  My monthly premium for Part B Medicare is up $5 to $104.90.  The part B deductible has been raised $7 to $147.  The Part A deductible (hospitalization) has increased by $28.  Let's do the math.  My Monthly premium increase ($5 x 12 = $60) plus the two deductibles ($7 + $28= $35) = $95 which is the first five months of my Social Security increase before I leave the house to check the REAL inflation rate at the gas station and supermarket.
In 2012 my wife and I spent $1918 our of our pockets for copayments to Medicare.  $18 x 12 = $216.

Don't mis-understand.  I am not complaining selfishly.  We're not poor.  We will make it.   There are many more people far worse off than we are.  Many of them will make it too.  I only wish we could make it without being attended by the lying, the stupidity, and the mendacity of  our political leaders.


  1. Linc,

    It is programs like social security that have enabled my parents (your generation) to stay in their homes, or move to a smaller one, rather than living with their kids, or worse. The fact is, people like my parents (including you) have paid their dues all these years and are, indeed, "entitled" to a secure retirement. It is a shame that so many politicians use the word in a derogatory manner. It is especially hypocritical when we know that they become "entitled" to government provided health care and pensions after only 1 elected term of office as compared to the people who have worked 40, 45, even 50 years before receiving social security.

  2. You are right, Joe, but the hypocrisy doesn't stop there. People who speak of the 47% wanting gifts and things and stuff are not unaware that everybody seeks advantages from the government. Think of K Street in Washington DC and the lobbies who work the halls of Congress and Fedearal agencies. They seek real substantial gifts like oil depletion allowances, farm subsides,mineral rights, lease for grazing, leases for timber clearing, etc.
    Also I have not heard anyone acknowledge that the reason why this Great Recession wasn't as serious as the Great Depression was due to the existnce of the Safety Net: unemployment insurance, FDIC insurance, government medical services, etc.
    Thanks for your comment.