Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
I'll say this for them: The Wall Street billionaires and corporate CEOs behind the "Campaign to Fix the Debt" have a lot of nerve. Once again they're using cheap scare tactics, along with some manipulative "nudging," to drum up support for cutting Social Security benefits.
The money behind the latest scare campaign -- "How Old Will You Be When Social Security's Funds Run Out?" -- also funds a TV ad that shows jobs, teachers, and roads and bridges vanishing, supposedly because the national debt wasn't brought under control.
That's pretty cynical, since their own ideas have led to lost jobs, teacher layoffs, and a lack of funds to repair roads and bridges.
Another ad says that people should confront politicians and "ask for a plan" -- by which they mean a plan for reducing the national debt, not a plan for creating jobs, hiring more teachers, or repairing roads and bridges.
As we were saying: Some nerve.
There's no need to revisit the evidence against Wall Street's top executives, or the fact that many Wall Streeters are involved with Fix the Debt. There's no need to recap the hidden agenda behind this campaign, or the fact that these would-be Social Security slashers all have great retirement plans of their own.
It is, however, worth mentioning that Fix the Debt's CEOs reportedly avoided an estimated $1 billion in taxes between 2009 and 2011 with a single tax loophole.
They apparently feel this billion-dollar dodge gives them a solid moral foundation from which to propose benefit cuts for the elderly, the disabled, and children -- because, they say, the government isn't collecting enough revenue.
"How Old Will You Be When Social Security's Funds Run Out?"
It's a trick question: Social Security's funds are never going to run out. If nothing is changed -- if, for example, billionaires like the ones funding Fix the Debt don't pay more in taxes -- Social Security's retiree trust fund is expected to run out of money in 2034.
But even without any changes at all, Social Security would be capable of paying a majority of its current benefits ... forever. That's because it will continue to collect revenue forever (or at least the foreseeable future).
"Don't think it will affect you very much?" the email continues. "We have a new tool that may change your mind." A link then takes you to a calculator, where you type in your birth year and are told what percentage of your lifetime benefits could be lost. Then another link encourages you to "design your own fix" and takes you to something called "the Reformer."
"The Reformer" may sound like the name of a sadistic assistant vice principal's favorite paddle, but it's actually an online calculator for modeling different Social Security budget alternatives. The first page offers nine different benefit cuts, along with their expected budgetary impact, and invites viewers to choose among them. The second tab offers six more benefit cuts.
Know what they don't show? The percentage of your lifetime benefits that would be lost under these cuts.