Democrats & Liberals Archives

Phony Crisis

N. Gregory Mankiw, President Bush’s top economic advisor (and the guy who says outsourcing is good for America), just called Social Security an empty promise.

"The benefits now scheduled for future generations under current law are not sustainable given the projected path of payroll tax revenue," he added. "They are empty promises."

Yikes! Look at all the qualifiers in that statement! The fact is, even mildly optimistic economic forecasts predict there will not be a Social Security crisis. To raise the alarm based on worst case projections forty years in the future is nothing but politics.

No problems with Social Security are projected until 2042 at the earliest. But for some reason, the Bush administration is focused on "saving" Social Security right now.

There are two big problems with the way the Bush administration is handling this issue. The crisis, if there is one, is at least four decades out into an uncertain future. And if, in forty years, Social Security actually is threatened with insolvency, the problem is a temporary one which can easily be fixed.

The fact that there's a mad scramble to "save" Social Security right now, forty years before its worst-case projected insolvency in 2042, tells me the administration's agenda is more about ideology than keeping our seniors from living their final years in poverty and squalor.

Even worse, President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security will cost taxpayers two trillion dollars. No matter how hard the administration tries to keep the price tag off the books, someone has to pay for it. If Bush and his cohorts in Congress aren't going to raise taxes to pay for the change (a change which Mankiw contends is pointless unless accompanied by deep program cuts), taxpayers still end up paying for it - plus the interest accrued on a two trillion dollar loan - later.

For the Bush administration to create undue alarm over Social Security is ideological fear mongering at its most deplorable. If we have to borrow and spend TWO TRILLION DOLLARS on something, let's spend it on solving a real problem, like strengthening homeland security, keeping loose nukes out of the hands of terrorists, or building an energy infrastructure that doesn't involve increasingly rare and expensive fossil fuels that leave us beholden to terrorist-supporting Middle Eastern regimes.

Posted by American Pundit at December 6, 2004 8:57 AM