H.L. Mencken famously noted that the objective of politics is to keep the people alarmed (and hence clamorous to be brought to safety) by threatening them with an infinite series of fictitious hobgoblins.
He was correct, and few things in politics reflect his insight more than Social Security. Currently, the debate around Social Security is dominated by exaggerated scaremongering. Either the Republicans will gut the program, or the Democrats will kill it.
It’s politics as usual, which is unfortunate since politicians from both parties are more than willing to watch the program fail in the future if they can get a few more votes now. The program on which the rest of us rely is essentially a method of shifting voters on the margins from one party to the other on election day.
Most people are troubled by this debate framework since the passage of time is Social Security’s Achilles Heel. Last year, the program created $700 billion in promises that no one expects it to meet since Congress didn’t do anything to change the program’s financial trajectory. In 2022, the cost of doing nothing will be greater-and considerably more the following year. Congressional inactivity is responsible for almost two-thirds of the current crisis.
Politicians are incentivized to keep the status quo as long as people blame the opposition.
The latest round of drama began a few weeks ago when Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) allegedly stated that Social Security should be evaluated as a discretionary expenditure every year so that Congress may solve faults with the program. According to the Senator, the move would bring accountability to the equation. He explicitly attributes the program’s poor prospects to a lack of oversight and negligence.
It’s uncertain how this modification can help the program recover from a $20 trillion shortfall. Congress now has oversight but chooses not to use it. Year after year, decade after decade, Congress has allowed the program to meander on a well-documented path to disaster.
He wants Congress to continue doing its job. It’s a job in Congress that no one wants. The Senator’s idea sounds a bit like a parent saying that if I make my kids wear coats and ties to dinner, they will stop throwing food at each other.
Pensions may be pretty long-lasting. Our country has recently finished paying off the last of the Civil War pensions. In Social Security’s case, the average beneficiary retires after 20 years. As a result, the goal of Social Security reform should be to create a system that can function for lengthy periods without Congressional action.
Senator Johnson would take reform in the other direction. If he had his way, the program would only be in effect for a year. If you’re 45, the last thing you want to see is Congress slapping legislative duct tape and baling wire around the program every year.
Voters should stop worrying about what the GOP would do to Social Security and instead focus on the fact that they have done nothing by far. During Trump’s presidency, the program amassed around $7 trillion in unfunded obligations. The extent of the deficit has virtually doubled.
The GOP hasn’t come up with a single Social Security proposal in almost a decade. The last major proposal was in 2016, only weeks before the final recess of the 114th Congress, when a retiring Congressman presented the “Saving Boomers’ Social Security at the Expense of Everyone Else” Act.
The name is a joke, but it’s hard not to notice that the idea would have retained benefits for people born in 1960 or earlier while decreasing benefits for the rest by more than 25% on average.
While the Republican Study Committee has included this plan in its yearly budget, no one knows if it would make the program sustainable or how much benefits would be decreased since no one has checked with the Social Security Administration to see if it’s effective.
The GOP’s strategy for Social Security is simple: assure voters that the party would safeguard benefits and hope that no one questions how they intend to uphold that promise. So far, that method has proven incredibly effective because no one will ask a disrespectful question.
The Democrats’ plan for Social Security is to pretend that the GOP is a hobgoblin and to take up righteous anger with everyone who doubts the folly of the proposition.
Mike was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 13, 1946. He was brought up in the
suburb of Skokie on Chicago’s northwest side and graduated from Niles Township (
East ) high school In 1964. Two years later he joined the US Air Force in November of
1966. After 2 years of Intense training he volunteered for Viet Nam and was sent to
Bien Hoa Airbase, which was 25 miles from Saigon, the nation’s capital. He
volunteered for a number of especially dangerous missions on his days off, such as
flying as a door gunner on a US Army helicopter and as a technical assistant on a
psychological operation on an Air Force O-1E observation aircraft. Capping off his
impressive accomplishments was winning the coveted Base Airman of the Month for
March 1969, a feat which was featured in the Pacific Stars And Stripes newspaper
read by every service man stationed in the Pacific theater of operations. After his
Viet Nam tour of duty he was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona
where he met and married his wife, Lequita.
He graduated from Arizona State University in May, 1973, and after a 30-plus year
career as a financial advisor he joined a number of service organizations including
Easter Seals and Valley Forward, sponsor of EarthFest. He was also involved with the
National Federation of Independent Business and became the longest-serving
chairman of the Leadership Committee ever. He spoke before the ( AZ ) House Ways
and Means & Senate Finance committees. He then joined Disabled American
Veterans ( DAV ) in September of 2015. He rose quickly through the ranks and
became Chapter 8 Commander in May of 2019 where he served with Distinction for 3
years before being “ termed out”. The next year, as Vice Commander, he won the
title of National Champion Recruiter!