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The Pile-On Continues


The attack by the Left on Obama over Social Security is really something. Leftists are so invested in denying the existence of a problem that they are even passing up opportunities to raise taxes on the rich. (Which is Obama’s preferred solution.)

Mark Weisbrot does a wonkier version of the Conason attack. A couple of points:

Back in 1983, when Social Security really was running out of money, with just a few months of payments on hand, Congress raised the payroll tax substantially. This was done deliberately in order to pile up a surplus to finance the baby boomers’ retirement.

Not true. Robert Myers, the executive director of the Greenspan Commission (which designed the fix of 1983) has said that the Social Security surplus emerged by accident.

The projected shortfall over Social Security’s whole 75-year planning period is less than what we fixed in each of the decades of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Also not true. As this chart shows, today’s 75-year shortfall is a much larger percentage of payroll than the 1982 shortfall. (And the comparison would be even worse for Weisbrot’s case if the trustees hadn’t switched their methodologies in the late 1980s.)

Update: A reader pointed out that “much” larger was an overstatement, so I’ve changed it. 


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