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March 8, 2019

Save Social Security or Expand It?

Democrats have a plan to keep it solvent, but, of course, it would do just the opposite.

In 2018, young voters who helped bring the U.S. House back into the hands of Democrats thought their dreams had come true. Just tax the rich, they thought, and they’d coast along through their adult years. But Democrats know that someone has to pay. They just don’t want anyone else to know.

Take Social Security, for instance. Now that Nancy Pelosi is once again speaker of the House, her party is working on a plan to make all those young people pay more to keep Social Security solvent. Rep. John Larson (D-CT) wants to expand benefits through his Social Security 2100 Act.

Yet, as the editors at The Wall Street Journal remind us, “The political pitch is that this would make Social Security more financially secure, but it would do the opposite. Social Security financing is increasingly stretched as fewer workers are available to support each baby boomer retiree. Social Security’s trustees reported in 2018 that filling the looming financing gap would require an ‘immediate and permanent’ payroll tax increase to 15.18%, a 17% benefit cut, or some mix of both.”

Someone should alert these up-and-coming American socialists that they’re actually going to have to pay for all that “free” stuff. And they’ll pay big when they finally enter the workforce. Some of them will have to fork over a third or even half of their income to foot a bill that’s becoming an ever-more massive portion of federal outlays.

The editorial board at USA Today writes that in the next fiscal year, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will “account for nearly 62 percent of all expenditures, far exceeding national defense (15.7 percent) and interest on the national debt (9.7 percent.) In fact, the federal government might best be described as a nuclear-armed, if woefully underfunded, health care and retirement provider. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in just 10 years, half of all federal spending (except for debt service) will be benefits to senior citizens.”

And that’s one of the main issues with the Social Security 2100 Act. The plan may very well keep Social Security funded, but there won’t be a penny left for all those other utopian projects Democrats dream of implementing. How many Millennials would support this act if they knew it would require putting aside fantasies of free tuition or the Green New Deal?

Of course, all of this assumes that the money collected for Social Security is put aside for our seniors. How many times have we heard about a Social Security “lock box” or trust fund that the government raids whenever it needs funding for its pet projects? And let’s not forget about the national debt, which has just surpassed $22 trillion.

Democrats and Republicans alike don’t seem to care about anything other than pandering to their interest groups. In this case, it’s seniors. But at least Democrats reward their supporters — unlike the GOP, which talks a good game about reform but doesn’t tend to follow through when it has the opportunity.

During the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, Republicans controlled all branches of the federal government. They could have done what they’ve promised but failed to do for decades: rein in federal spending and privatize entitlements in order to keep the government leaner and more efficient.

That’s a tall task for a party that couldn’t even muster enough support in its own ranks to repeal and replace ObamaCare. It doesn’t help that President Trump himself has promised to not touch entitlements. For now, the Social Security 2100 Act isn’t likely to go very far with Republicans holding the Senate. But Democrats are moving forward to expand government programs that Republicans didn’t have the courage to tackle.

Unfortunately, this latest scheme is nothing more than a shell game designed to help Democrats attract more senior votes in the next election. Sure, it may put a few more bucks into grandma’s purse during her golden years. But everyone contributing to the system now will pay the ultimate price when this fiscal house of cards collapses.

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