DC Logic on Social Security

May 14th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I always feel like I’m falling into some sort of trap when I apply simple logic to conservative positions (which should not always be confused with solely Republican positions in the case of entitlements…some D’s get this wrong too).  But the pull of common sense is just too strong!

Here’s the thing: it is logically indefensible to simultaneously maintain the following two positions:

1)      We can no longer afford Social Security.

2)      We can afford—nay, we must afford—the permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts.

Over to CBPP’s own Kathy Ruffing:

The revenue loss over the next 75 years from making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent would be two times the entire Social Security shortfall over that period.  (See figure.)  Indeed, the revenue loss just from extending the tax cuts for upper-income people would be more than two-thirds as large as the Social Security shortfall over the 75-year period.

Now, to be clear, Social Security is funded not through the taxes which feed into general revenues but through the Social Security Trust Fund.  There are many ways to achieve trust fund solvency, some of which call for higher payroll taxes, such as increasing the maximum taxable salary level (raising that threshold to once again cover 90% of earnings would close about 30% of the 75-year shortfall in the trust fund).

But that larger point here is that assertions of what we can and can’t afford need to be considered from the perspective of the “asserter,” the winners, and the losers.  No such assertions should ever be taken at face value.

OK, I’ll now quietly slip back into the tupsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass world of DC logic.

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5 comments in reply to "DC Logic on Social Security"

  1. foosion says:

    It’s easy. The upper income tax cuts go to our friends who pay attention and contribute to our campaigns. Social Security is wasted on the great unwashed who are too uninformed to vote their own interests. Besides (in the immortal line from Up), squirrel!!

    • Fred Donaldson says:

      The “great unwashed” can’t afford soap on Social Security benefits at average of only 40% of previous wages.

  2. D. C. Sessions says:

    And then there’s the fact that a small shortfall in SS over the next 75 years is a crisis that must be dealt with now, now, NOW!!!

    Peak oil? Global climate disasters? No rush, we’ll worry about them when and if.

  3. AndrewBW says:

    Don’t forget that we also need massive increases in defense spending, or the boogeyman will get us!

    • David says:

      Well, yes, if the boogeyman is the defense contractor in your district who is threatening to withhold his campaign contributions…