- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Social Security IOUs stashed away in W.Va.,” (Politics, March 16) details the truth about the Social Security trust fund. A few years ago, when there seemed to be a controversy on whether one existed, President George W. Bush made a remark that it was a bunch of paper in file cabinets in West Virginia - and no one believed or confirmed it.

Social Security, before the current economic downturn, was supposed to be self-supporting, maintaining a positive cash flow, until 2017. This prediction is now invalid. This year, Social Security is projected to pay out nearly $29 billion more than it collects. We will be into deficit spending for Social Security if this prediction is valid, with the argument on how long the trust fund can support Social Security a nonstarter. Redeeming the trust-fund bonds requires deficit spending because there is no budget for Social Security.

The system as we know it is broken. It is a Ponzi scheme that has been propped up temporarily by putting more people under it (for example, the Federal Employees Retirement System, or FERS) and by taxing Social Security benefits. These temporary props have collapsed, and FERS has added many more innocent people to the Ponzi victims list. Social Security was a productive cash cow for Congress over its surplus-generating life; witness the $2.5 trillion owed us that we have to repay ourselves.Perhaps we would be better off forgiving the debt so Congress and the Social Security Administration can’t hide behind this fake wall of a trust fund.

Social Security morphed into a retirement plan years ago but was never restructured as such. Unless the system is redesigned, there will be numerous citizens who have contributed but will never see the benefits they were promised. Redesigning the system should be put into the hands of nonpolitical financial planners, not dysfunctional politicians and bureaucrats. We all need to wake up and get involved.

JOHN T. MCVICKAR

Vienna, Va.

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