Don’t look now, but Social Security is rapidly going broke. It’s going to take big tax hikes and benefit cuts to make it fiscally healthy. Don’t worry though, most of that will fall on posterity. From Brian McGlinchy at starkrealities.substack.com:
As Democrats push new entitlement programs, the biggest one is set to run aground
At a time when President Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing to expand the breadth of entitlements to include free preschool and subsidized child care, little attention is given to the fact that the country’s biggest existing entitlement program—Social Security—is a financial wreck.
The program’s payouts have exceeded revenue since 2010, but the recent past is nowhere near as grim as the future. According to the latest annual report by Social Security’s trustees, the gap between promised benefits and future payroll tax revenue has reached a staggering $59.8 trillion.
That gap is $6.8 trillion larger than it was just one year earlier. The biggest driver of that move wasn’t Covid-19, but rather a lowering of expected fertility over the coming decades.
That trend has already been steadily undermining the program. In 1960, for every Social Security beneficiary there were 5.1 workers adding payroll taxes to the system. That ratio has shrunk to 2.7 and is expected to reach 2.2 by 2036.
The Social Security trust fund is projected to run out in 2033. Absent other action, that would trigger a 20% cut for everyone receiving benefits at that time.
While 2033 is just 12 years from now, it’s hard to predict when an appropriate sense of crisis will actually take hold in Washington. We can, however, speculate on what measures the inevitable reckoning with the program’s insolvency could include.
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