Trump says they’re untouchable. Most of the other Republican candidates and potentials say otherwise. From A.B. Stoddard at realclearwire.com:
In the prospective 2024 nominating contest, some GOP wannabes are serving up straight talk about the need to fix Medicare and Social Security, even though Donald Trump banished entitlement reform from Republican doctrine in 2016. These fiscally sober, and actually conservative, Republicans aren’t likely to win the nomination, and they’re making Trump giddy. But they could also put House Republicans and Ron DeSantis in a jam.
Nikki Haley, who announced her candidacy last month, and likely contenders Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, have all said the looming insolvency of these programs – which take up 30% of the federal budget – must be addressed.
House Republicans vowing to find $130 billion in spending cuts had initially placed entitlements squarely on the negotiating table, but removed them after Trump and President Biden united against reform. Biden taunted congressional Republicans at his State of the Union, saying it was their “dream” to cut both popular programs, which was met with boos. Trump has released a video warning congressional Republicans not to cut “one penny” from either safety net program in their negotiations over the debt ceiling. After both events, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made it explicit: In their hunt for savings they will look elsewhere and leave both programs alone.
“Clean” increases in the debt ceiling passed during Trump’s presidency, while the debt increased by 39%. House Freedom Caucus members, who rode the Tea Party wave and sought drastic spending cuts for years, went all in on the Trump spending bender. One of those Freedom Caucus members who went on to serve as both budget director and then chief of staff to Trump – Mick Mulvaney – told The Dispatch, “The truth of the matter is that the first two years of the Trump administration, when the Republicans had the House and the Senate, we raised spending faster than the last couple of years of the Obama administration.”
Republicans bitch about statist depredations just before they accept and defend them. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:
Maybe you listened to the Orange Man’s speech at CPAC the other day. I stopped listening after about ten minutes, which is about how long it took for the man to defend Social Security – and promise to keep it going.
“We’re not going back to people that want to destroy our great Social Security system,” intoned the Duce, reincarnated.
Could there be a sadder barometer of just how far to the Left what’s left of the Right has travelled?
Social Security is the Left’s greatest single legislative achievement – next to the income tax and the “Federal” (sic) Reserve system, which gave control of the nation’s money supply to the bankers who have used both the Left and the Right to further their schemes since at least the time of Andrew Jackson and probably a lot longer.
SS established in law the principle of the Left that we are literally – legally – our brother’s keeper. Or rather, that our brothers – so to speak – keep us. Chained. Us to them and them to us, forever. By dint of existing, everyone is entitled – precisely the right word – to a monthly government check in their retirement. And everyone is obliged to “contribute” to funding this. Not their own retirement; that is something people did (some still manage to) before there was Social Security when being responsible and prudent with one’s money was expected and encouraged – and being responsible for not being prudent and being irresponsible with one’s money had consequences. You are thus obliged to hand over 15 percent of every dollar you earn to finance the retirement benefits of people you never even met, who are retired right now – and then receive alms in your turn, financed by the “contributions” of those you never met who are working after you’ve stopped – and begin collecting.
Legally, you’ve got no claim to a return of even a penny of the Social Security taxes you’ve paid during your lifetime. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:
The real tragedy of Socialist Insecurity is just that.
Many of those forced to “contribute” all their working lives to this socialist wealth transfer scheme could probably have retired – in the sense of not having to work – well before reaching SS retirement age and not been dependent upon SS in their retirement.
And so independent of the government.
Instead, generations have been made into elderly – but ferocious – defenders of the government. Don’t touch my Social Security! say elderly conservatives.
They then wonder why leftism continues to advance . . .
The moral argument against socialism is self-evident. It is immoral to take what isn’t yours – and Social Security does exactly that, except worse. It persuades the taker that he has “contributed,” when in fact he has been taken. Financially as well as psychologically.
First, he is required – is forced – to hand over money, in most cases before he has even held it in his hand. His “contributions” are “withheld” – that is, deducted without his consent – from every paycheck, if he earns one. If not – if he is self-employed – he is obliged to actually hand over the money – 15 percent of every dollar, now – which is a “contribution” in the same way that you are a “customer” of the agency that enforces the taking, should you elect not to “contribute.”
Legally there’s no difference the government steals from you as Social Security taxes and the money the government steals from you as income taxes. The government is free to do as it pleases with both taxes. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:
That may be true, but let it not be said that Americans don’t feel very, very strongly about their own national pension program. I say this because in response to my article last week on raising the Social Security age, I received more furious responses than I have for any other article in many years. Here’s one example from a man whose initials are MF:
What are you, just nuts??? Having paid in to SS for over 40 years and experiencing big gov losing my records for some of my most productive years, so my stipend has been reduced; And after my wife and I planned for retirement and saved while contributing to SS, my wife died 2 months after her 65 birthday never having received a single payment from SS after paying in for 42 years. There are no spousal survivor benefits. All the contributions she paid in are gone. Age of qualification isn’t the issue. Corruption, graft and top heavy bureaucracy, while incompetents administer at the front line are the problems. Either wise up, do your research or stay away from topics you seem totally ignorant about.
Here’s one from reader RG:
I didn’t make the promise [to pay a pension at age 65] the guvvmint did. … You are a useless f**k wasting computer ink. Get your head out of your a** and breath the gathering doom. My father fought in France in WW2 and Korea, didn’t live long enough to collect his benefits nor my mother-in-law. F**k you again.
People live a lot longer now, and if that fact is not recognized, Social Security will soon be bankrupt. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:
On January 10, the French government announced plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The change would mean that after 2027, workers in France would have to work 43 years to qualify for a government pension, instead of 42 years. French workers promptly took to the street in protest decrying even this very small reduction government welfare.
Like many countries in Western Europe and North America, France faces a major demographic problem in that its population is aging and demanding ever larger amounts of public pension funds. Meanwhile, the younger working-age population is shrinking as birth rates continue to fall. So, the French state is looking for ways to stay relatively solvent.
For Americans who follow our own old-age social benefits systems, this problem will seem quite familiar. Although the US regime is not in as dire fiscal straits as the French one, the US’s federal government nonetheless faces huge and growing obligations to current and future pensioners. This will only grow more urgent as the population continues to age and as the numbers of prime-age workers stagnates.
Indeed, the Social Security scheme is an excellent example of how government programs, once established, gradually become far more costly—in real per capita terms, not just aggregate terms—as time goes by. Many recipients now spend decades collecting benefits on a program that had been sold as a program only for people who were too old, exhausted, and injured to work at all. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer workers are called upon to foot the inflated bill.
You know what’s in the government’s Social Security Trust Fund? IOUs from the government! From Dennis Miller at theburningplatform.com:
As children, our elders programmed us with certain “core” beliefs. As adults, finding contrary evidence to those beliefs creates discomfort called “Cognitive Dissonance.” Psychology Today defines:
“Cognitive dissonance is a term for the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other. The clashing cognitions may include ideas, beliefs, or the knowledge that one has behaved in a certain way.”
My mother was a single parent long before it became commonplace. My grandmother was the predominant figure in my childhood development.
She was constantly praising President Roosevelt and Social Security. She explained, the government takes money out of your paycheck and “saves” it for you until you retire.
When I got my first real paycheck, the deduction for social security was more than income tax. I was shocked. She reassured me that I should be happy, the government was saving my money for me.
While she grumbled about taxes, she exempted social security, it was not a tax, it was the government saving YOUR money for YOU.
It took decades for me to realize FDR, like all politicians, lied. “Cognitive dissonance” was real. I was very uncomfortable letting go of a core belief and facing reality. Despite my grandmother’s beliefs, the government was not “saving” my money.
Social Security was set up as a Ponzi scheme and now we are at the stage where the Ponzi falls apart. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:
International Man: The Social Security Administration recently announced an 8.7% cost of living adjustment for next year. That’s the largest increase in over 40 years.
It represents an additional about $100 billion in annual spending for Social Security. Moreover, cost of living adjustments could increase even more in the future.
However, it seems the government will pay for this $100 billion by printing even more currency, which will make prices rise, even more, necessitating further cost of living increases.
What do you make of this?
Doug Casey: From its very inception Social Security was an unsustainable Ponzi scheme. They anticipated that money from new contributors would pay off early recipients. For decades they had demographics on their side; the average American was young and had a large family, and the economy was growing.
Worse, Social Security corrupted Americans, making them think they didn’t have to save for their own future—that the government would provide for them. Meanwhile, the extra tax burden made it harder for them to do so, supporting a dysfunctional bureaucracy of over 60,000 employees.
This is a preview of things to come, until the government runs out of money. From Bruce Wilds at brucewilds.blogspot.com:
Unnoticed by most taxpayers and touted as good news was the fact we the taxpayers of America have stepped up to the plate and bailed out hundreds of failing pensions. Much of this took place without the average citizen even knowing it occurred. Buried deep in the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden in March 2021 was a provision mandating the government to bail out ailing multiemployer pension plans.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package proposed by President Joe Biden to speed up the United States’ recovery from COVID-19. The huge bill was passed with little time for debate or even to be read, all under the idea congress needed to take action to address the economic and health effects of the pandemic and the ongoing recession.While how this provision to assist troubled pensions has been addressed did not get a great deal of air time it may prove to be far more costly than predicted.
People are often led to believe pensions are a promise carved in stone, however, when the money is not there pensions and promises will be broken so pensioners should prepare for the pain. This is especially true in the public sector which has a history of granting pensions that are unheard of in the private sector. The 25 largest U.S. public pensions face trillions in unfunded liabilities. If Americans took the time to stand back and look at the bigger picture they will see the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) an independent agency of the United States government responsible for acting as the nation’s “safety net” for failed pensions is also in trouble. When a pension fails this agency is expected to take control of its assets and dole them out to its pensioners in the coming years. The ugly truth is the PBGC is not a rock but is in need of its own bailout.
“It’s like going to the ATM in Vegas and then going to the roulette wheel and it comes up red and you go back to the ATM.”
The remark was recently made by Steve Mermell. The man retired last year as city manager of Pasadena, California. He knows a thing or two about how borrowing to enhance pension fund returns can result in spectacular losses.
The Wall Street Journal article did not clarify whether red was a winning turn of the roulette wheel or not. Within the article’s context it didn’t really matter.
The main point was that public pension funds are grossly underfunded. Consequently, more and more pension funds are borrowing money to play the markets. The goal is to boost returns to cover their massive funding gaps.
If you recall, public-sector retirement plans offer defined benefits, where retiree pension checks are calculated based on salaries and years of service. Private employers, on the other hand, generally offer defined-contribution plans (like 401Ks), where payouts are based on market returns.
If you live long enough, and are a recipient of a public pension fund you will get out far more than you put in. If you work in the private sector, there’s a good chance you will outlive your retirement savings.
By traditional pension accounting Social Security isn’t just flat broke, it’s deep in the hole. From Lance Roberts at realinvestmentadvice.com:
Social Security has a problem. As Democrats push to expand entitlements to include free preschool and subsidized child care, little attention is getting paid to Social Security is a financial trainwreck.
“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.” – Stark Realities
Note the last sentence.
When President Roosevelt first enacted social security in 1935, the intention was to serve as a safety net for the elderly. However, at that time, life expectancy was roughly 60-years of age. Therefore, expectations were that participants would not be drawing on social security for very long from an actuarial basis. Furthermore, roughly 16-workers paid into social security for each welfare participant.
Of course, given that politicians like to use government coffers to buy votes, additional amendments got added to social security to expand the participation in the program. Such included adding domestic labor in 1950 and widows and orphans in 1956. They lowered the retirement age to 62 in 1961 and increased benefits in 1972. Then politicians added more beneficiaries, from the disabled to immigrants, farmers, railroad workers, firefighters, ministers, federal, state, and local government employees, etc.
While politicians and voters continued to add more beneficiaries to the welfare program, the number of workers steadily declined. Today, there are barely 2-workers for each beneficiary.
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