The Fundamental Contradiction of Social Security Privatizers

The Bush administration is ignoring the 5-year trend of improving Social Security finances. Instead, it has chosen to focus on the fact that this year the trustees’ predicted exhaustion date for the trust fund is one year earlier (2041) than it was last year (2042). Treasury Secretary John Snow said, “the report underscores the fact that the longer we wait, the more difficult the problem becomes.”

There is a big problem with that argument. President Bush is traveling around the country telling people the Social Security Trust fund doesn’t exist. For example, on Monday Bush said, “some of you may think there’s what they call a Social Security trust… But that’s not how it works…what’s left is an empty IOU.” Snow’s rhetoric, while irresponsibly inflammatory, reveals that what Bush is saying isn’t true. If the trust fund was a fantasy, a change in its exhaustion date would have no impact on the program. The fact is, the Social Security trust fund is real — backed by the full faith and credit of the United States — and will help ensure the program can pay full benefits for decades.