With Social Security, the common myth is that the fund is dishing out more benefits than taxes it is taking in, and therefore is going broke. If that were the case, where’s the proposal to raise Social Security taxes for the wealthiest wage-earners, or trim benefits for the rich, who really don’t need them to make ends meet?
The truth, according to some observers, is that the Social Security Trust Fund would be in great shape if the government had not borrowed so much from it over the past several decades.
William Greider, writing in The Nation, said “the cost-of-living gimmicks Obama has proposed will not shave a penny off the federal deficits or debt. That is because the Social Security benefits are not paid by the federal budget. They are drawn from the Social Security Trust Fund — the money paid in by working people every payday. People know this is their money, not some government handout.’’
The government’s debt to the Social Security fund stands at nearly $3 trillion. By cutting benefits, the government is trying to put off the day when it will have to repay the fund to keep it afloat; in other words, when Social Security has its money back and can use it for paying benefits to the retired workers who contributed to the fund.
If the president is successful in his dangerous game of budget roulette with Republican leaders, Democrats who side with the lame-duck Obama and seek re-election in 2014 will be facing an irate “gray panther” voting block. GOP candidates will be able to point fingers and claim it was the Democrats who cut your benefits.
The fight, however, is just beginning and opponents are not waiting for the ballot box.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has launched one of many petition drives at SignOn.org. His states that a cut to Social Security benefits would hurt senior citizens and is “an idea not befitting a Democratic president. If you want to reform Social Security, make the wealthy pay their fair share by lifting the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes.”