Social Security – Nightmares vs. Daydreams

 by Daniel Rose

The federal programs collectively known as Social Security represent one of our government’s largest expenditures (some 5% of our GDP) and constitute the major source of income for nearly 70 million Americans.  Retirement payments, family death benefits and insurance protection against severe disability that are provided by Social Security are a crucially important factor in American well-being, yet the precarious financial prospects for this key national exercise are being largely ignored in today’s political discussions.

With individuals living longer and with fertility rates declining, Social Security expenses have been rising and income has been declining much faster than previously predicted, and current projections by the Congressional Budget Office see sequestered trust funds, formerly in the billions, soon being exhausted and hitting zero by 2033. At some point and in some form, an increase in income and a decrease in outgo will become mandatory.

The financial impact of sudden and unanticipated diminution in payments could be devastating, since most elderly Americans receive more than half their income from Social Security and approximately one in four receive more than 90% of their income from it.

The shocking absence of any mention of Social Security’s problems in the Republican presidential debates of 2023 is equaled by the current lack of any such discussion by the Biden administration, and on this issue we must demand accountability and responsible action from our political leadership.

With so much of today’s public discourse conducted by fanatics of the extreme Left and the extreme Right, those of us who are ‘pragmatic moderates’ in The Vital Center (which all opinion polls and surveys show to include a majority of the public) must be heard from, and we must demand timely, prudent and publicly acceptable steps to protect this profoundly important vehicle for national welfare.

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