Social Security already has been rescued

Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 11:08 p.m.
It's good that President Bush wants to rescue Social Security. But neither he nor the media seems to realize that Social Security already was "rescued" in 1983, when pay-in rate schedules were increased in order to provide for retiring "baby boomers" in future years.
Now Bush wants to cut benefits to "boomers," who already have been paying for their future benefits through these increased rates.
Due to these adjustments, there is now, or should be, some $1.5 trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund "surplus." Unfortunately, beginning as early as 1983, the U.S. government has spent every nickel of this money as if it were general revenue.
Though made unlawful in 1990, this practice has continued to date.
The trust fund consists entirely of non-negotiable treasure notes ( IOUs), which the government can make good only if and when Congress raises
enough taxes to pay back what has been "borrowed."
To disguise the government's raid on the Social Security Trust Fund, the "borrowed" amounts have been carried on federal books as assets, reducing annual deficits by the amounts borrowed from the year's Social Security Trust Fund surplus.
These "assets" actually are liabilities. Imaginative bookkeeping like this in the private sector could and should put corporate executives in jail.
Whatever else is done to "rescue" Social Security will do no good unless the government finally and forever takes its hands out of the cookie jar and develops a realistic and honest plan to pay back what already has been "borrowed."

Richard Hiers,


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