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March 12, 2016

GOP Debate: Setting The Record Straight On Social Security

By Dave Johnson

The Social Security Trust Fund will increase to approximately $2.9 trillion at the end of 2019. Then it begins to draw on this fund and there is a potential funding shortfall in about 20 years. If nothing is changed the program would be forced to pay a bit less out to recipients. There are many proposals for fixing this, most do not involve future cuts in benefits.

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Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future

During Thursday's Republican presidential debate, here's how CNN's Dana Bash falsely framed a question about Social Security:

"Mr. Trump, you don't want to raise the retirement age, and you also don't want to cut benefits even for wealthier Americans. But according to the Social Security Administration, unless adjustments are made, Social Security is projected to run out of money within 20 years."

There were other misleading questions and lots of misleading answers. So here are some facts about Social Security that can help people who are worried by these Republican lies and scare tactics.

1. Social Security is not going to "run out of money" and is not "going broke." The Social Security Trust Fund will increase to approximately $2.9 trillion at the end of 2019. Then it begins to draw on this fund and there is a potential funding shortfall in about 20 years. If nothing is changed the program would be forced to pay a bit less out to recipients. There are many proposals for fixing this, most do not involve future cuts in benefits.

2. This shortfall (like so many of our national problems) is largely the result of income inequality. In 1983 the Alan Greenspan-led Social Security Commission correctly calculated increases in future income but did not anticipate that so much of that income would go to people "at the top." Because income that pays into the fund is "capped" (currently at about $118,000 a year) the fund does not collect its share from that upper income, hence the shortfall.

3. Proposals to fix the problem include extending that "cap" into higher incomes. In fact, if that "cap" is eliminated, Social Security benefits could be expanded, making up for income lost as corporations shifted pension payouts to shareholder profits.

4. Social Security does not contribute to government borrowing. It can not, by law, borrow money.

A "hub" organization working on this is Social Security Works.

Campaign for America's Future has for years been working on getting the facts out about Social Security. Here are just a few past fact sheets and posts on this subject:

-- Speaking Truth About Saving Social Security

-- What Social Security Crisis?

-- Social Security 10 Years From Now: A Choice of Two Futures

-- Cutting Social Security Benefits is Wrong Policy and Dumb Politics

-- The 1983 Strategy Behind Today's Social Security Attacks

-- What Social Security Report SAYS vs What They Tell You It Says

-- Understand The Rights Attack On Social Security

-- Cut Social Security To Save It From Cuts

-- Social Security Facts vs Fog

-- The Real Social Security Crisis Is Income Inequality

-- Expanding Social Security Is Completely Affordable

-- Why Do So Many Elites Hate Social Security



Submitters Bio:

Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US


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