Defending Social Security from Hobgoblins

According to H.L. Mencken, politics maintains public fear (and demand for guidance to safety) by posing a never-ending threat of hobgoblins, all of which are fictitious.

He was correct, and Social Security is the best example of his insight into the political spectrum. The current Social Security debate consists primarily of exaggerated scare tactics. The program will either be completely gutted by the GOP or destroyed by the Democrats.

Politicians from both parties are glad to see the program fail in the future if they can get a few more votes now, which is tragic since politics is business. The program on which most people rely just serves as a tool for transferring marginal voters from one party to another on election day.

Most voters have a problem with this discussion framework because Social Security’s Achilles heel is time. Congress’s inaction on the program’s financial direction created $700 billion in commitments last year that nobody expects it to fulfill.

In 2022 and the next year, there will be a higher price for inaction. About two-thirds of the program’s current issue is due to Congressional inaction. But politicians are incentivized to uphold the status quo as long as people continue to accuse the opposition.

The most recent controversy began a few weeks ago when Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) allegedly stated that Social Security should be assessed annually as discretionary spending so that Congress can address issues with the program. The senator claims that the modification would increase accountability. He specifically cites oversight and carelessness as the causes of the program’s gloomy prognosis.

Since there is a $20 trillion shortfall in the program, most don’t see how this change could help. Currently, Congress has oversight but decides not to exercise it. Congress has allowed the program to veer down a well-documented path to crisis year after year and decade after decade.

He wants Congress to carry out its current duties. Remember that no one in Congress wants the position. The senator’s proposal seems quite similar to a parent who claims that their children will cease fighting over food by making them wear a coat and tie to dinner.

Pensions have an extremely long lifespan. Only lately has the nation completed paying off the final Civil War pensions. In the case of Social Security, the typical beneficiary retires after about 20 years. Therefore, the goal of Social Security reform should be a long-lasting system that operates independently of Congressional action.

Senator Johnson would approach reform from the other side. He would have the program run for a full year. The last thing a 45-year-old wants is Congress securing the program with baling wire and legislative duct tape each year.

Voters should start paying attention to the GOP’s inaction instead of fretting about what they would do to Social Security. The program created about $7 trillion in unfunded liabilities while Trump was in the White House. The extent of the deficit increased by over 50%.

The GOP has offered a single Social Security proposal for almost ten years. The “Saving Boomers’ Social Security At The Expense Of Everyone Else Act,” put up by a retiring congressman in 2016, came just a few weeks after the 114th Congress’ final recess.

While that’s not the actual name, it’s hard to miss that the proposal would have kept benefits for people born in 1960 and earlier while cutting benefits for the rest by an average of more than 25%.

Although the Republican Study Committee included a copy of this plan in its yearly budget, no one bothered to examine the plan’s effectiveness with the Social Security Administration. Thus, no one knows whether it would make the program financially viable or just how much benefits might be cut.

The GOP’s proposal for Social Security is to inform voters that the party will safeguard benefits and pray that no one will inquire how they intend to maintain their word. This tactic has been incredibly successful thus far because nobody will make the rude inquiry.

On the other hand, the Democrats’ strategy for Social Security is to portray the Republican Party as a hobgoblin and engage in righteous outrage with anyone who challenges the notion’s ridiculousness.

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Rick Viader is a Federal Retirement Consultant that uses proven strategies to help federal employees achieve their financial goals and make sure they receive all the benefits they worked so hard to achieve.

In helping federal employees, Rick has seen the need to offer retirement plan coaching where Human Resources departments either could not or were not able to assist. For almost 14 years, Rick has specialized in using federal government benefits and retirement systems to maximize retirement incomes.

His goals are to guide federal employees to achieve their financial goals while maximizing their retirement incomes.

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