02 Jan 2005 Revamping Social Security
This Washington Post story by Jonathan Weisman, “Revamping Social Security,” isn’t written precisely the way I would have done it, but it is very much worth reading.
Much of the piece is stuck in the “do we need to rescue Social Security?” mode, which is a question we should be looking at only in our rear view mirrors. The article, however, ends on a very good note with a quote from Charles Blahous of the White House saying: “We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard than a temporary fix…”)
(A higher standard than intergenerational welfare dependency would be nice, too.)
The irony that Social Security supposedly was designed to protect workers is nicely and subtlety underscored in this quote, also from Blahous: “…it’s not much consolation to the worker of 2025 that there was an understanding in 1983 that he foot the bill.”
The Washington Post, for good and ill, plays an influential role in setting the Congressional agenda. When the Post takes an issue seriously, that issue tends to get attention. Placement of a story of this kind in the Sunday edition, even if on page 8, is an indicator that establishment Washington is beginning to prepare for the possibility of real work on Social Security.
The article begins:
In just 14 years, the nation’s Social Security system is projected to reach a day of reckoning: Retiree benefits will exceed payroll tax receipts, and to pay its bills the system will have to begin redeeming billions of dollars in special Treasury bonds that have piled up in its trust fund. To redeem those bonds, which represent money taken in years when Social Security ran a surplus and used for other government operations, the federal government would likely have to cut other programs, raise taxes or borrow more money.
Continue reading here.