Thursday, August 21, 2008

In “Reform Oversights” (Commentary, Sunday) Brandice Canes-Wrone does an in-depth analysis on how Social Security taxes bear disproportionately on two-earner families. This is a good microanalysis of one of the present Social Security tax system’s faults.

A bigger problem with our pay-as-you-go Social Security system is that Social Security taxes collected this year are used to pay this year’s recipients and the surplus is put into the general fund and spent by Congress on anything it wants.

Social Security has been running large cash income surpluses for more than 20 years and is projected to have surplus cash income until 2017. IOUs are issued for the money borrowed by the government to the Social Security trust fund, which is held in the national debt as money that the government owes itself. Redemption of these IOUs must come from the current budget. We taxpayers contribute to the budget and to date owe ourselves more than $2 trillion.

We citizens have listened to our politicians’ sketchy plans to save Social Security. One of these misguided proposals is to raise the cap on Social Security taxes. Increasing Social Security’s cash income before 2017 will just accelerate government spending and the national debt.

Social Security has been used unjustly over the years as a fear tactic by our politicians to scare people into paying more taxes. They even have convinced so-called Social Security advocates to fight against changing Social Security in any way.

The first change should be to stop spending the surplus and save and grow it in a real Social Security trust fund.

The bottom line is that Social Security has been Congress’ tax revenue “cash cow” for more than 20 years and will continue to be so until 2017. It will be a more generous cash cow if the Social Security tax cap is raised to increase the surplus. Is there anyone in Congress brave enough to put his or her political future on the line to straighten out this mess?



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