Some Important Truths about the Future of Social Security

Some Important Truths about the Future of Social Security

This essay will cover and explain all of the following issues in order:

  1. What people claim to be true about Social Security’s insolvency
  2. Separating the truth from the rhetoric
  3. Analyzing proposed solutions to perceived solvency issues

Something seems to be wrong with this picture:

The Social Security system began in 1937. Every year between 1937 and 2010, the system took in more money in Social Security tax receipts than it paid out in benefits. For each year, some 73 years, the excess funds had been invested in high-grade U.S. Treasury securities. That’s 73 years of compound earnings – surely enough to cover a shortfall created when we have a generation in which the working age percentage of the population decreases and the percentage of the population receiving Social Security increases. This is something that is going to happen in cycles, and it is what has happened in recent years. The baby-boomers started reaching retirement age, meaning that a generation with a large population began receiving Social Security benefits while a generation with a relatively smaller population paid taxes into the system. If the formula for determining how much tax to collect is calculated properly, then this normal cycle in demographics should be no big deal. The excess funds in the Social Security Trust Fund, comprised of 73 years of excess tax collections along with interest compounded over the years, should cover this. Then, when the demographic cycle starts to repeat itself, the trust fund will begin to grow again. The reason to even have excess funds is to cover this expected change in demographics. The balance goes up, then the balance goes down, and then the cycle starts again, all the while there is plenty of money in the trust fund to cover benefit payments.

Yet we are being told that Social Security is in a crisis right now. It is no longer solvent. How can that be? Why aren’t the excess funds enough to cover the baby-boomers in their retirement years?

There have been some big changes in the Social Security system over the years. Many more people are covered than they were in 1937. Instead of a simple retirement system, it has become a safety net for certain surviving spouses, as well as a system to pay benefits to disabled persons and their dependent children. There have been adjustments for inflation, which look huge when you look backwards over a long period of time. But at the same time, there have been adjustments made to the formula for collecting taxes; adjustments that are designed to cover any changes in benefits in order to keep the system solvent. If the formula that has been used is the correct one, and if Congress has applied that formula properly, then there should always be enough excess funds to keep the system solvent – even for periods of time in which the benefit payments exceed the tax collections. But we are told it is no longer solvent, and we have to make drastic changes NOW. How can that be?

We have heard a lot of stories…

  1. The government has raided the Social Security Trust Fund in order to hide deficit spending elsewhere in the budget.
  2. The government has raided the Social Security Trust Fund in order to finance wars “off the books” (say liberals), or
  3. to pay for out-of-control spending on social programs (say conservatives).
  4. The government takes money from the Social Security Trust Fund and uses it for general expenditures.
  5. The government issues an IOU to Social Security but has no intention of repaying what it owes.
  6. Social Security is supposed to be a simple retirement system and should never have grown into something else.
  7. People are simply living longer past retirement age, and receiving benefits for more years.
  8. Social Security is nothing but a Ponzi scheme.
  9. Social Security is an entitlement that is breaking the federal budget.
  10. If we don’t cut benefits now, Social Security will go broke.
  11. Our children will have nothing because today’s Social Security recipients are draining the funds.

There are many different stories of problems and dire predictions coming from all directions. What is the truth? Is this a crisis situation that we must fix right now? What are the real problems, and how do we fix them? Take note of the paragraph immediately previous to this one. We will return to it shortly in this discussion.

First of all, we have a language barrier to overcome. Many of these stories are based on truths that can be countered with other truths that tell the same story from a different perspective, and each perspective will lead you towards a completely different conclusion. The same concepts are told in different ways by different people in an attempt to gain sympathy for a particular point. What we need to do is get rid of these half-truths, and narrow the focus to the “real truths” – a term that I am using for truths void of any rhetorical and misleading language – in other words, truths that are relevant facts which aren’t simply restatements of opposing facts.

For example, “the excess funds have been invested in high-grade U.S. Treasury securities” and “the government has raided the Social Security Trust Fund in order to hide deficit spending elsewhere in the budget” are two completely opposing views of the exact same event. The connotations of the exact same occurrence are completely different depending on the language used. We can’t have a reasonable discussion of what is going on, and how to fix it, unless we focus on the “real truths” and leave the misleading language out of it. If one person says something that can be construed as a fact, but somebody else can say something that is almost the exact opposite yet still is a fact, then we end up arguing over “facts” that are mere rhetorical talking points.

I’ll discuss the items on the above list of stories that we are hearing about the demise of Social Security, separating the rhetoric and misleading connotations from the ‘real truths”. But first, it will be helpful to point out exactly what the Social Security system is.

In broad terms, Social Security is a system in which benefits are paid to retirees, certain spouses of retirees, disabled persons, dependent children of disabled persons, and survivors of beneficiaries. These benefits are financed through withholding taxes.

Of course, this is only a broad explanation. There are many details, but listing them here would distract from the purpose of this writing. Some of the details, though, are important to a discussion of the current problems and what should be done to fix the problems. I’ll mention those details below, as they relate to proposed solutions.

Now, go back to the “we have heard a lot of stories” paragraph above. Here are the points listed, along with a discussion of what they mean in terms of “real facts” void of misleading language.


  1. The government has raided the Social Security Trust Fund in order to hide deficit spending elsewhere in the budget.
  2. The government has raided the Social Security Trust Fund in order to finance wars “off the books” (say liberals), or
  3. to pay for out-of-control spending on social programs (say conservatives).
  4. The government takes money from the Social Security Trust Fund and uses it for general expenditures.
  5. The government issues an IOU to Social Security but has no intention of repaying what it owes.

These are different ways to talk about the same process. The language used in each represents a specific viewpoint, not a separate “real truth”.

The Social Security Trust Fund is a huge fund from which future benefits are to be paid. As of the end of 2013, the balance in this fund was $2.76 trillion. This balance represents the cumulative receipts of Social Security taxes over the years, plus interest earned on the balance, minus benefits already paid. Interest is earned because the fund balance is invested in U.S. Treasury securities, considered by most finance professionals to be the safest investments in the world. From the point of view of the Social Security Administration, this is simply an investment. The different points of view come about when you look at these transactions in terms of what they mean to the Treasury Department which issues these securities, as well what they mean to the federal budget.

To the government, the funds invested in Treasury Securities represent loan proceeds. That’s how the bond market always works. Those who invest are loaning money to those who issue bonds. It happens with corporate bonds, and it happens with government bonds. From the point of view of Social Security, the money is an investment. From the point of view of Treasury, the money is a loan receipt. This is government debt, but it is also a government asset – available cash. This means that the money that Social Security invests for its fund is at the same time money available to the government for general purposes. It is also a relatively cheap way for the government to finance debt, since Treasury securities have low interest rates.

The national debt is simply a cumulative balance of all outstanding Treasury securities. Approximately 2/3 of the debt is listed as “debt held by the public”. The other 1/3 is listed as “debt held by other government agencies”. The amount owed to Social Security falls into this latter category – indeed, Social Security makes up the largest share of this kind of debt. Without funds from Social Security, the government would have to get the funds elsewhere – some combination of tax increases and more government debt in the category of “debt held by the public”. This includes debt held by foreign entities.

I should add a disclaimer of sorts here. I was motivated to write an essay on this topic after reading, and receiving permission to use, an essay from an economics professor who insists that there are no real Treasury securities involved, at least for the amount of the 1983 Social Security tax increase. In 1983, the increase in social security taxes more than offset the 1981 decrease in income taxes for the middle class, making Reagan’s tax reforms a net tax increase for the working class. This professor claims that only paper IOUs have been issued; and that no repayment, including interest, has been made or is intended to ever be made. If true, then this would indeed represent a “raiding” of Social Security. However, my subsequent research could not confirm his claims. His position seems to be based in part on isolated comments from members of Congress. I grew suspicious of his claims when:

  1. I could not find any facts to back them up
  2. when I found numerous sources that I consider to be reliable which supported what I wrote above but did not support the professor’s claims, and
  3. especially when the amount he listed as being the amount raided since 1983 happened to be the same amount as the entire Social Security Trust Fund balance.

Stay tuned. If he is proven to be correct, this will become a huge story. It would make much of my analysis here irrelevant. I have chosen not to list his name, nor plug his book as he requested, because my research could not support his claims.

“Social Security is supposed to be a simple retirement system and should never have grown into something else.”

I’m not sure what point this claim is supposed to be making. What Social Security used to be, or what it was originally intended to be, is completely irrelevant to its problems now, unless it can be shown that people in general would be better off if Social Security had not evolved. Without the “better off” points of a previous version of Social Security, this is not a valid argument. If the “better off” points are included, then those points can be compared on a cost/benefit basis to competing claims. Simply stating “what used to be” is not an argument for “what should be now”. That Social Security is a different type of system than it used to be is a fact, but not a “real truth” in terms of relevancy.

It is true that Social Security was originally a much smaller and simpler system. It was a “social insurance program of focusing on low and middle-income workers who were more likely to be economically vulnerable in retirement”.

That is why it was designed to be financed through withholding taxes based on wages from jobs, and not financed through other means. That is why there was an income cap for withholding – the system itself was designed to be focused on those who were vulnerable, not those with high earnings. It is difficult to find, through research, any compelling reason for an income limit on withholding, other than the fact that the original focus of the entire system was on the working poor and middle class. Although the system has evolved into a broader collection of benefits, and has become an important part of the overall economy, today’s arguments for retaining an income cap are similar to the arguments back then. “The rich don’t receive the benefits, so the rich shouldn’t have to pay to support the system.” I personally do not agree with that argument – not when everybody benefits from the economic advantages of having a solvent Social Security system in place. It can be argued that in a real sense, Social Security has evolved into an important part of the nation’s infrastructure – even if that was not the original intention.

”People are simply living longer past retirement age, receiving benefits for more years.”

This is also a fact. But is it a “real truth” as an argument regarding how to fix social security? Consider this, which is also a fact: Very recently, for the first time, people began receiving less money, in lifetime benefits, than they paid into the system during their entire working lives. That’s right. People are getting less out of it than they paid into it. They paid taxes throughout their working careers, and perhaps they expected to get that money back, plus interest, after they retired. Yet due to rules in place, people are not outliving the money that they paid into the system. They are adding to, not depleting, the fund balance, even during a time when they are living longer. This is a recent development. When it comes to arguments over whether to reduce monthly benefits or increase the retirement age, we have two competing facts: One, people are living longer; but two, they will not get back what they put into the system. Two competing facts; what is the “real truth”?

”Social Security is nothing but a Ponzi scheme.”

Well, no it isn’t. This kind of argument doesn’t say what is wrong with the system, other than to imply that: “Social Security’s problems are the problems of a Ponzi scheme – and hey, everybody knows that a Ponzi scheme is evil, so that makes the Social Security system itself evil, so let’s just get rid of it – and by the way, since it is evil, there is no need to try to discuss this issue rationally; therefore, end of discussion.”

That is what such a claim seems to be designed to imply. But Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. Saying that it is relies on a definition of a Ponzi scheme that does not require any of the “evils” that are implied in the arguments against Social Security.

Here is a great explanation from Ezra Klein on why Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme.

”Social Security is an entitlement that is breaking the federal budget.”

Social Security’s funding is direct. The money that goes into the trust fund comes from payroll taxes that are dedicated for a specific purpose. It is separate from the federal government’s general fund. The fact that Social Security only invests in Treasury securities means that the government gets funds for its budget through a government agency source. It actually adds revenue to the federal budget, decreasing the amount of bonds that the Treasury needs to sell on the open market. This means less upward pressure on interest rates, cutting the government’s interest costs. It also means less “ownership” of the federal government by foreigners. Social Security is not breaking the federal budget.

What about the other part of that statement. Is Social Security an entitlement? Here is an example of a fact that is different from a “real truth”. Whoever says that Social Security is an entitlement is stating a fact. Social Security is an entitlement. But why would that fact even matter, why would it even be mentioned, in an argument over Social Security’s problems? I can only think of one reason, and that is to take advantage of some unfair negative connotations behind the word “entitlement”.

Social Security is an entitlement for one reason only. It is an entitlement because the money is being held for somebody else’s future use. Somebody will be entitled to it in the future; that’s why it is an entitlement. The false negative connotations are that somehow, this is money that is going from hard-working taxpayers and given to freeloaders. That is not what an entitlement is, but that is what people have been led to believe due to misinformation through political rhetoric. That is also not what Social Security is, but by using language that implies otherwise, calling Social Security an entitlement falsely associates Social Security with negative connotations.

”If we don’t cut benefits now, Social Security will go broke. Our children will have nothing because today’s Social Security recipients are draining the funds.”

This is what the current “we have to do something now” argument is all about. It is why this is even an issue today.

This would be a good time to take a look at where Social Security currently stands financially.

The Social Security Trust Fund currently has a huge balance, $2.76 trillion as of the beginning of the year. That is more than the total of all income taxes, individual and corporate, paid in the United States in one year. For about 73 years since its inception, Social Security had taken in more than it paid out. But since 2010, it has paid out more than it has taken in. The most recent projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others indicate that unless changes are made, within 19 years the fund will be about 23% short of being able to pay 100% of the benefits that it is projected to owe. In 1960, there were 4.9 workers for every beneficiary; in 2012, there were only 2.8 workers per beneficiary, and the CBO projects that in 2035 there will only be 1.9 workers per beneficiary. In 1960, the typical family could expect to receive 7 times in benefits what they paid into the system. Today, they pay more than they receive. Today, 6 million Americans over the age of 65 are living in poverty. That number is projected to be 33% higher by the year 2020.

Those are the relevant facts as we know them, the “real truths” of the current situation. For the most part, the arguments, the rhetoric, and the proposed fixes stem from these few facts.

A number of events and trends have been cited as contributors to a change from a system that takes in more than it pays out, to a system that is said to be no longer solvent.

  1. The baby-boomer generation is reaching retirement age.
  2. People are living longer than they used to.
  3. There has been an increase in the number and types of benefits.
  4. The income cap no longer captures enough income to cover projected payouts, due to increased income inequality.
  5. Cost of living adjustments mean more money being paid out.
  6. The formula for determining the tax rate and the income gap is wrong or has been misapplied by Congress.

You might have noticed that some of the known and relevant facts cited above are future projections. For example, it isn’t a fact that Social Security will have a shortfall within 19 years – it is only a fact that Social Security is projected to have such a shortfall. What if the projections are wrong? Some of the contributing factors to the current situation are changes in demographics – namely, the existence of a baby-boomer generation that is reaching retirement age. The CBO and other projections are based on assumptions of future demographics. What if they are wrong? The number 19, as in 19 years until Social Security won’t be able to pay full benefits, is an interesting number. That is the number of years that it takes a person to advance from conception to working age. These projections are based on the number of workers we will have, and some of them haven’t even been born yet. How do they know how many of them there will be? How do they know how many working-age immigrants we will have, or what our immigration policy will look like? The CBO bases its projections on taking current law and current trends, and extending them into the future. Yet trends do not tend to remain constant over long periods of time.

Proposed Solutions

1. Do nothing now

The argument for doing nothing goes something like this: There is no current crisis. There is only a projection of a future shortfall under current trends. It makes no sense to cut benefits now, in order to avoid the possibility of having to cut benefits 19 years down the road. Wait, see if the projections pan out, and deal with the problem when we know that it really is a problem. Why do something now because we are afraid that we might have to do the same thing later?

2. Eliminate the entire program or privatize

This argument is popular with many conservatives. It fits in nicely with the “government is always the problem” and “the private sector can do everything better than the government” rhetoric. But it isn’t going to happen. Social Security is here to stay. It has become an important part of the nation’s infrastructure, and important to the national interest. That alone means that the federal government is the proper authority for running the program. It provides many benefits for many different individuals who are financially vulnerable. It is popular, even among conservatives. While many conservatives are saying we should eliminate or privatize Social Security, many others are saying “don’t cut benefits for old people!”

Privatization would impose additional administrative costs as well as add a level of profits to the cost of participants. And who would be the participants? The system won’t work as it is designed to if participation is voluntary. If we keep it mandatory, then privatization would mean paperwork for every wage earner and beneficiary in order to prove that they are paying a private company to do something that the government has always done. And perhaps most important to many people, privatization does not address the specific problems within the system.

3. Invest in the stock market

This is a version of privatization that has gained a lot of traction among many people. It addresses the dwindling trust fund issue by creating a trust fund with much higher earnings potential.

Social Security is only allowed to invest in high-grade U.S. Treasury securities. These securities are extremely safe, which means that their yields do not include any risk premium. They pay very low interest compared to alternative investments. Over long periods of time, such as the entire working age of someone who is paying into Social Security, the yields on stocks are much higher than the yields on Treasuries. So why not allow Social Security to invest in the stocks of U.S. corporations?

An interesting side note on this subject is the fact that when Social Security was being proposed by FDR in 1935, investing in stocks was one of the details under consideration. The idea was rejected because doing so would be considered socialism. It would mean the government would own pieces of private businesses, in essence picking winners and losers based on which stocks they purchased for the Social Security Trust Fund. I find it interesting that many of the people who support investing Social Security funds in the stock market also scream “Socialism!” as a reason to reject government policies that they don’t like.

Investing Social Security funds in the stock market would add many costs and negative consequences to the economy.

It wouldn’t be popular. If the government simply invested all of the trust fund into one stock fund, then people’s entire future will hinge on the ups and downs of the stock market. What kind of fund would it be: would it focus on blue chip stocks, would it focus on income stocks, would it focus on growth stocks? Would it be a mixed fund, with some bonds and even Treasury securities included? Different types of funds are advisable for different groups of individuals. Based on the historic record, and there is no guarantee of future earnings, growth stocks are best for someone who won’t have to worry about collecting benefits for a long time. But somebody near retirement, or in retirement if the money stays in the same fund until collected, can be wiped out by an untimely drop in stock prices. Most people do not want to take such a risk, and if forced to do so would be living in fear for their financial security.

What if, instead of one fund for all, the government allowed people to choose between different funds, and re-allocate funds at various times? What if the government allowed people to choose between the traditional Treasury-only fund and one or more stock funds? In other words, let individuals decide for themselves?

This would impose tremendous costs on the system. What we are talking about is a system where current retirees, and those who retire in the near future, must continue to be paid while everybody else is allowed to have a fund whose earnings reflect the true results of their investment choices. In other words, two separate types of accounts, which together add up to a large increase in promised benefits, must be maintained until every current beneficiary dies. This cannot be done without very large transition costs spread out over the lifetime of today’s retirees. Where is this money going to come from, and are those who propose this solution willing to accept these costs?

But giving people such a choice will not be popular, even if we can deal with the huge cost issue. Many people don’t want choices, they want security; many people don’t want paperwork forced on them, they want freedom; many people don’t want to become or to hire financial experts, they want simplicity.

Besides, each of the various types of stock market alternatives for Social Security is further complicated by the existence of different types of beneficiaries: not just retirees are involved, but also disabled persons, spouses, children, and survivors.

4. Cut the rate of inflation

The idea behind this sounds straightforward. Without inflation, benefit payments won’t have to be increased due to an increase in the cost of living. Future benefit payments can be cut without decreasing the standard of living for our retirees. This will cut the amount of benefits paid out, and will prolong the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.

But this isn’t what it appears to be.

Policies designed specifically to cut inflation will not only backfire in their attempt to shore up Social Security, they will do much harm to the economy in the process.

The actual inflation rate is the average of all price changes. All prices do not change at the same rate. Some prices go down while others are going up. Inflation is the average. The rate of inflation as published is not the actual inflation rate, but rather a calculation based on several assumptions about American demographics. Individual price changes affect different groups of people to different degrees. The economic reason for prices to change constantly, but not together, is a constant reallocation of resources. When the general trend in prices is upward, it often means that an increase in demand has strained resources, and that unemployment is low. When the general trend of prices is not upward, it often means that resources are being unused, that the economy is underperforming, and that unemployment is high.

A low level of price inflation is considered by economists to be good for the economy. Economic growth won’t take place without it. If you look back at price changes over a long period of time, the changes look very big. But if you look at average changes per year, they are not big at all – they are consistent with economic growth.

Policies designed to decrease inflation create two major problems for the economy. One, they bring us closer to deflation, which is much worse for the economy than normal inflation.

Two, they work through cuts in wages. When policy-makers talk about cutting inflation, they are specifically looking at ways to cut wages, using the theory that consumer price cuts will follow wage cuts in a market economy. These policies are not designed to give workers an increase in the standard of living. As for Social Security, wage cuts mean fewer payroll taxes being collected, decreasing the amount of deposits into the trust fund. They will not shore up the trust fund.

5. Switch to a chained-CPI

This is another idea designed to decrease future benefit payments. This proposal is being fought over in Washington right now. The idea behind it is that the CPI measure being used to calculate cost of living adjustments (COLA) overstates the rate of inflation for retirees. This is obviously wrong, and it is based on cherry-picking certain drawbacks of the regular CPI measurement.

The concept of switching to the chained-CPI measurement for determining the COLA for retirees requires a belief that senior citizens are increasing their purchasing power each year because their annual SS increases are greater than their inflation-related increases in living expenses. It doesn’t take a genius to know that isn’t true.

6 Increase the retirement age

This is already being done, but there are proposals to increase the retirement age even more. This is a proposal to help shore up the trust fund through a decrease in future benefit payments. The justification is that people on average are living longer than they used to, and are active at an older age – so they are capable of working. Instead of receiving benefits and therefore taking money out of the system, people affected by this change would be paying into the system.

People on average are living longer, but at the same time they have begun to pay more into the system than they can expect to get out of it in terms of benefits. Increasing the retirement age would mean that the discrepancy between what they pay into it and what they get out of it would increase.

Besides, there is a form of ecological fallacy involved here. People on average are living longer than before, and on average may be capable of working at an older age than people used to be able to. But those are averages. Is it right to use these averages to force each individual to work at a later age? What is true statistically for a large group of people might not be true for each individual in that group.

7 Increase the withholding tax rate

The idea behind this proposal is to adjust the formula for calculating the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. This method has been used throughout the history of Social Security. When Social Security was first implemented in 1937, the employees and employers each chipped in 1% of wages. Today, each chips in 6.2%, with self-employed individuals paying 12.4%. The last increase was in 1990.

Each increase in the tax rate, of course, decreases the take-home pay of workers while increasing the labor costs for employers. Payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare) now account for one-third of all federal revenue.

8. Comprehensive immigration reform

It is unlikely that immigration reform alone will fix what is wrong with Social Security, but it could help. The idea behind this proposal is that one of the causes of a shortfall in the trust fund is fewer workers supporting more beneficiaries, due to demographic changes. A well-designed immigration system could work to offset these demographic changes by bringing in more workers who will pay into the system.

This one isn’t politically popular at a time when long-term unemployment is high, even though it can be shown that immigrants’ role as consumers actually create more jobs than they take away from people who are already here.

Even though this idea currently isn’t popular, it could help alleviate the problem, especially if immigration reform is viewed as one part of a larger economic development policy.

9. Raise or eliminate the income cap

Just like the proposal to increase the Social Security tax rate, the idea behind this proposal is to adjust the formula for calculating the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. But this one could actually solve the entire solvency issue all by itself, without causing undue damage to the economy. Many economists support this idea.

I’ve mentioned this proposal earlier in this essay. The income cap for Social Security tax withholding goes back to the original idea of Social Security being limited to a retirement fund for vulnerable low and middle class workers. Only those classes were considered in determining both the funding and benefits. Since then, Social Security has not only grown into a program with multiple benefits, but also has become an integral part of our economy and our infrastructure. Yet, the cap remains, without any justification other than the justification that was used for the original, limited system.

The cap has been increased numerous times over the years. Originally, it was raised whenever Congress took action to raise it. In more recent times, it is raised automatically based on a formula. The cap currently stands at 117,000. Nobody has to pay Social Security taxes on salary income exceeding $117,000. Those who make less than $117,000 pay Social Security taxes on all wage income, making this tax regressive.

The cap has failed to cover enough income to maintain the same degree of solvency for the Social Security system that it used to for one good reason. The formula that is used for determining the cap is based on average wages. But in recent decades, trickle-down policies in Washington have led to a much wider income gap. A much higher percentage of all income is exempt from the tax because it is going to people whose incomes exceed the cap. The income gap doesn’t change the average that the formula is based on, but it does take more income out of the reach of Social Security’s fund balance.

10. Broaden the tax base

This is one proposal that, if done correctly, is guaranteed to fix whatever ails Social Security. It will also fix the problems of high unemployment, low wages, and crumbling infrastructure. And it doesn’t require specific steps designed to change Social Security. It does, however, require common sense steps to fix the major problems in the overall economy – reverse policies that create growing income inequality and create incentives for corporations and rich Americans to keep more wealth circulating in the economy instead of being moved overseas. Unfortunately, these steps are politically impossible unless we get a Congress that will quit demanding regressive policies.

The details of this proposal are much too complex to explain as one point in an essay about Social Security. But everything in the economy is inter-related, and Social Security is an integral part of the economy.

A version of this essay is included as a chapter in the book Common Misconceptions of Economic Policy by Jerry Wyant. You can purchase this book in paperback form from Amazon and other online book distributors. The list price is $12.99 (only $9.99 using discount code TA9GTK7E when ordering, depending on the distribution channel). Or if you prefer, you can download a digital version on your device (Kindle, Nook, etc.) for $4.99.

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Jerry Wyant