Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Conservatives' new plan to kill Social Security
System needs reform
Froma Harrop’s column begins with two preposterous claims about conservatives’ beliefs: they “never much liked Social Security” and that the Social Security Trust Fund is “a nice hunk of change invested in Treasury securities that some conservatives don’t want to pay back” [“Conservatives switch to Plan B for killing Social Security,” Opinion, Nov. 28].
Harrop clearly doesn’t remember the Reagan-O’Neill grand compromise of the 1980s that raised the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax rates and established the trust fund. Far from disliking Social Security, Republicans have offered plans to reform it to make it fiscally sustainable.
There is no doubt or argument that the Social Security system has an obligation and will pay those who contributed the payments they are due in retirement. There is also no argument that the U.S. Treasury has annually borrowed all the excess funds from Social Security.
There should be no doubt that all those funds were and continue to be spent on our annual budgets. The problem is that a dollar can only be spent once. The Special Treasury Securities issued in return for the borrowed excess Social Security funds constitute an unfunded obligation on future taxpayers. There is no money there: the Treasury does not have surplus funds. There is no “nice hunk of change,” as Harrop states. Redeeming the Special Treasury notes will require future tax revenue.
The system needs reform, and her column does not enlighten the debate we all need to be having.
—Bob Geary, Newcastle