October 12, 2012


How A Terrible Debate Question Helped Paul Ryan Mislead About Social Security

The media consistently fuel the misconception that Social Security is bankrupt or going broke, whipping itself into a frenzy of doomsday scenarios and asking politicians when they will deal with this supposedly grave threat to the U.S. budg
et. However, Social Security can pay full benefits until 2037, and nearly full benefits for years after that, even if literally nothing is done to change the program. Reporters would surely be shocked if infrastructure projects, child nutrition programs, or any other federal effort were fully funded for more than two decades, but no credit is given to lawmakers for achieving just that with Social Security.

Furthermore, Social Security is statutorily barred from adding to the deficit: the program can’t add to the gap between revenue and spending. Plus, one very simple tweak — lifting the cap on the payroll tax so that it is applied to more of the wealthiest Americans’ income — would ensure that Social Security can pay full benefits for more than 70 years."