I have a lot of problems with the current state of Presidential debates, including the fact that other parties’ legitimate candidates are effectively barred from stirring the pot.
Because let’s be honest — these events are really just a chance for the candidates to look good, repeat rehearsed sound bites, and continually redirect to their major talking points no matter what question was originally asked.
Still, I like to watch because you just never know what might be said. Take President Obama’s response to Jim Lehrer’s question on Social Security, which went like this …
“You know, I suspect that on Social Security, [Mitt Romney and I have] a somewhat similar position. Social Security is structurally sound. It’s going to have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and Speaker — Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill. But it is — the basic structure is sound.
“But — but I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare and then talk about Medicare, because that’s the big driver or our deficits right now.”
Again, I found it interesting that Obama immediately shifted the topic away from Social Security in his very first breath … and that Romney was equally okay with avoiding the subject.
And it was absolutely maddening that Lehrer didn’t do what a moderator should do — which is interrupt, restate the original question, and hold the guys’ feet to the fire!
But since he didn’t, let me help you “check the facts” a bit on this particular topic …
It’s Inherently Contradictory to Say that a Program
Is Both Structurally Strong AND Needs Tweaking!
I’ve lived in plenty of buildings that were constructed long before 1939, the year the Social Security trust fund was enacted, and none of those buildings ever needed new foundations or frames.
And yet here’s our national retirement program — which was already overhauled in the 1980s as President Obama noted — needing ANOTHER round of “tweaking” three decades later.
So when President Obama says Social Security is structurally sound, I wonder whether we just have totally different ideas of what that phrase means.
Because we are not talking about a little paint and some new windows!
This marks the second year in a row that the Social Security system is taking in less money than it’s paying out.
Moreover, it is now believed that these annual deficits are permanent, and will worsen the overall system’s financial health each year going forward.
Does that sound like structural soundness to you?
Remember, as recently as 2009, the Social Security Administration was predicting the program would begin taking in less than it paid out in 2017.
Then, just one year later, they were proven wrong when Social Security actually took in $148 billion less than it paid out.
Talk about a colossal math error!
But it gets worse:
The Social Security Administration quickly said it was only a temporary slip and that a permanent state of deficits would STILL begin much later.
Within one year, they were proven wrong yet again when the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Social Security program had, in fact, already entered a permanent state of annual deficits.
Meanwhile, Let’s Look at What Kind of “Tweaking”
President Obama Has Done to the System Recently …
The only two recent pieces of legislation Washington has passed each resulted in EVEN LESS money going into the Social Security program!
Oh sure, they gave these laws big, happy names. And that was on purpose … because if they had named them appropriately, millions of Americans would have been storming the Capitol with pitchforks.
The first one, called the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010,” was signed into law by President Obama on December 17, 2010.
The second one, called “The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012,” is basically a continuation of the original legislation and was approved by Obama on February 22.
The basic idea was simple: Stimulate the economy by putting more money back into all our pockets. You know, good-old fashioned tax cuts.
Hey, who in their right mind would argue with that, right?
Except for one little problem: The tax they cut is the amount of money today’s workers contribute to Social Security.
So this new law is the same thing as telling you to withdraw some money from your 401(k) and go spend it now to get the economy going.
Sounds like a great idea for the next couple months but it will be absolutely disastrous over the long-term … especially if your 401(k) is already running on empty.
Haven’t our elected officials learned anything from the last million times they raided the Social Security trust fund?
It’s the very definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome each time!
In my opinion, all this points to one simple fact: Politicians are so concerned with getting elected (or re-elected) that they’d rather keep stealing more money right out of our national retirement account and worry about the consequences later.
So when they’re asked about it on national television, they simply brush the issue under the rug, smile for the cameras, and move on to the next topic.