New York Times econo-whiz Paul Krugman marked the 75th anniversary of America’s Social Security program with a warning note on Sunday, declaring that Social Security is under siege from “nearly all Republicans” as well as “some Democrats.” However, Krugman points out that much of their dissent comes from “bad-faith accounting” and does a little corrective accounting of his own in his column. —KA
Paul Krugman in The New York Times:
Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.
About that math: Legally, Social Security has its own, dedicated funding, via the payroll tax (“FICA” on your pay statement). But it’s also part of the broader federal budget. This dual accounting means that there are two ways Social Security could face financial problems. First, that dedicated funding could prove inadequate, forcing the program either to cut benefits or to turn to Congress for aid. Second, Social Security costs could prove unsupportable for the federal budget as a whole.
But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger.