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December 6, 2021

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Propaganda leads the debate about Social Security

It’s time we had an honest discussion about Social Security instead of the misleading propaganda we’ve been hearing.

Social Security is not bankrupt. There is about $2.5 trillion in assets in the Social Security Trust Fund. These assets are U.S. Treasury notes that are earning annual interest and represent the excess of payroll taxes collected over benefits paid out. Some would suggest that these Treasury notes have no value. I would suggest that if that were true, the pictures of dead people in your wallet have no value.

Over the years, payroll taxes have been paid by workers and employers. Whatever is not needed for benefit payments has been borrowed from the trust fund for other government purposes. As an example, the cost of the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts alone would account for about two-thirds of the money borrowed from the trust fund.

It seems we can afford to maintain tax cuts for the wealthiest — some don’t see that as a threat to the federal budget deficit. The same people who champion the cause of the wealthy then tell us that we can’t afford $1,100 Social Security checks that we’ve already paid for because those checks are adding to the deficit.

So the next time you see someone calling for Social Security “reform” or for “privatizing” Social Security, remember that this is code for “Yeah, we borrowed your money and we don’t want to pay it back.”

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