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Social Security “Reform”: Are They in It for the Money?

social-security-seal.jpgLet’s cut to the chase here. Social Security doesn’t need a fix to make it keep helping seniors, even according to the very conservative estimates of the Social Security trustees, which state that Social Security:

  • Will take in more money than it is spending until 2017
  • Including interest on the SS trust fund, not be spending more money than its income till 2028
  • Not run out of money till 2041

Benefit cuts are actually pushed a fair bit into the future, and wouldn’t occur under Obama’s first term, as I understand the Diamond-Orszag plan, so Social Security "reform," from the point of view of the administration, would be more about upping the balance of cash coming in. It’s not clear that the administration wants any Social Security reform (or, that after the furor over it, they would still want it), but if they do, well, perhaps the reason might be money.

"Reforming" Social Security is something which will use up a great deal of political capital. So, if the administration decides to proceed either they think that a problem that doesn’t exist except in the long term (and perhaps not at all)—"Social Security not being able to pay benefits"— is urgent enough to waste huge amounts of political capital on, or they want the money. I really don’t see any other possibility. Perhaps I’m missing something, but this is where the logic leads me.

I would suggest that a better way to raise money would be to raise marginal tax rates on the wealthy, but the administration may not feel it can get the one additional, necessary Republican Senator (once Franken is seated) to vote with the Majority.

On the other hand, a coalition of Blue Dog Dems and Republicans are always a threat to pass a regressive tax on ordinary people.

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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in Pogge.ca and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at http://www.ianwelsh.net/

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