Responding to a question from a patron at a café, Biden said, “Hey, by the way, let’s talk about Social Security. Number one, I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security. I flat guarantee you.”
So clearly, not everyone in Washington acknowledges the brick wall we’re hurtling toward.
CBS News says it’s time to face facts.
“For nearly three decades Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes from workers than it paid in benefits to retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children,” it reported last week. “The surpluses also helped mask the size of the budget deficit being generated by the rest of the federal government. Those days are over.”
Even by the sunniest estimates, “the projected shortfall in 2033 is $623 billion, according to the trustees’ latest report. It reaches $1 trillion in 2045 and nearly $7 trillion in 2086, the end of a 75-year period used by Social Security’s number crunchers because it covers the retirement years of just about everyone working today,” CBS adds.
The fix isn’t difficult; raise the retirement age (which only makes sense, since seniors are healthier now and working longer than they used to) and means-test the benefits.
Even the liberal Washington Post editorial page is disappointed with Biden’s comment.
The newspaper goes on to say, “the vice president’s hearty assurances, like so much in this campaign, will make even more difficult the governing decisions that become more expensive and more painful with every year of delay.”
Economists say when Social Security began, 42 workers were paying into the system for every person drawing from it. In 1940, there were 42 workers per retiree; in 1950 there were 16; today there are three, and in 20 or 30 years there will be two or fewer workers per retiree.
Even the Post calls Biden’s comment “pandering.” Because it flies in the face of arithmetic.
And that’s where we are; when simple and universally recognized facts are ignored in an effort to get votes, the American public had better look out.
Serious policy issues — such as the approaching Social Security crisis — deserve serious political discussion.