Letters to the Editor

Debt circus

July 29, 2011


To the editor:

If anyone wonders what’s wrong with Washington, it is on full display this week regarding the debt ceiling, calling for slashing government spending but keeping the Bush tax cuts from 10 years ago, when Congress reduced the amount of incoming tax revenue from the wealthy and increased government spending.

Now, seemingly every four hours, political “hacks” walk out to the TV cameras accompanied by their “entourage” of solemn-faced unknowns, to inform us nothing new has happened and it’s the other side’s fault, a tactic employed by both President Obama and Congress as the deadline nears.

There is talk about cutting back on Social Security “entitlements.” I am on Social Security, and every paycheck I earned during 40 years of working, I paid a good chunk into Social Security as does every American drawing a paycheck. Social Security is not an entitlement! Social Security is a trust fund for American workers, not a congressional bank! Will this debt ceiling “problem” be resolved? Probably, but only hours before the deadline when something “miraculous” happens and the crisis is averted thanks to these brave, wise, compassionate representatives in Washington.

The last time the debt ceiling expired in the 1990s, the Republicans got the blame and most of them were summarily drummed out of Congress the next election. Remember, if nothing else, these folks in Congress are survivors, and their reptilian brains are primarily focused on and driven by surviving voters’ outrage (and getting re-elected!).


bevy 5 years, 1 month ago

Like x 10 bazillion. These clowns need to go. VOTE THEM ALL OUT! They care nothing about the welfare of our country, they are focused solely on retaining their power and furthering their personal wealth-generating agendas. VOTE THEM ALL OUT! Maybe this will be the impetus to get the other 50% of Americans off their couches and into their voting booths next time around.

ScottyMac 5 years, 1 month ago

"Social Security is not an entitlement!"

Oh yes it is. You paid in on the promise that you would be paid back. Therefore you are entitled to every dollar you have coming to you.

ScottyMac 5 years, 1 month ago

"Social Security is not an entitlement!"

Oh yes it is. You paid in on the promise that you would be paid back. Therefore you are entitled to every dollar you have coming to you.

ScottyMac 5 years, 1 month ago

"Social Security is not an entitlement!"

Oh yes it is. You paid in on the promise that you would be paid back. Therefore you are entitled to every dollar you have coming to you.

ScottyMac 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't know why my above comment was posted three times, but I guess it is worth repeating three times: You are entitled to your Social Security check. You are entitled to your Social Security check. You are entitled to your Social Security check.

It is your money. It belongs to you.

KayCee 5 years, 1 month ago

"To repeat, your money is gone." Sad but true.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

It was never intended to be "your" money. Please see my post below.

Jimo 5 years, 1 month ago

Money is not "gone." Excess money in SS is stored in government bonds, as the system was designed to do and has done from Day One. (Gee, where else would it be "saved"?)

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

So we took an asset - a surplus - and turned it into a liability - bonds which will have to be paid back with interest. Those bonds have been sold to others, and other parts of the government. Where do you think the money will come from to pay them back with the interest? Wait for it...taxpayers, of course.

It could and should have simply been saved in the trust fund, if a suitable investment vehicle couldn't be found which would provide a return on the investment without being too risky.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Money is a useful abstraction. Nothing more. Nothing less. But no more an abstraction that gold would be.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

"This, it turns out, makes all the difference in the world."

Especially for those who have all the gold.

angelbear 5 years, 1 month ago

you know i got a better idea every single person who runs for office says i want to do blah blah blah for the american people i think that should be put to the test take away thier expence accounts and thier pay let all that money do to the money we owe and i am willing to bet that our debt and borrowing will end in under 10 years and they will not have to touch all the hard earned money that we tax payers have placed into Social Serurity for our retirment. after all they care about us the american people it is not like any of them need the paycheck they are all comfortable money wise and doing better in that department then 75% of all americans.so maybe just maybe they need to put their money where thier mouths are.

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

There should have been enough of a surplus in the Social Security fund to carry the baby boomers until the middle of this century if the two Bushs and Clinton hadn't spent it. The boomers paid more into the fund than any other generation and now Congress wants to reduce the amount of SSI and Medicare distributions because THEY spent it? They all, past and present, need a Jethro Leroy Gibbs slap upside the head.

jayhawxrok 5 years, 1 month ago

The House Republican tea party lunatics are proving why they are not to be trusted with their jobs.

gr 5 years, 1 month ago

"Social Security is not an entitlement!"

Yes it is! They promised!

Wait... Who is "they"? Oh no!

It is a pyramid scheme. It served the instigators well. Now they're dead and gone and so is the money. As long as new suckers can be found, it is perpetuated. Soon it will collapse like every other such scam. But, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the whole economy will collapse before it's found out.

We need a "savior". Doesn't seem like Obama is it. But he sure helped prepare for one. Then, watch out! People will blindly give complete control to him. Because, it's for our ____ Fill in the blank: security, economy, environment..... Too many people are willing to give up anything if it's for whatever. Give me liberty or give me death doesn't seem to exist in their minds. If you think our liberties are being eroded daily, wait till that happens. Forcing people against their will is the name of the game.

Kate Rogge 5 years, 1 month ago

It wasn't a pyramid scheme. Boomers could have put our SS fund monies in a passbook account in a Wichita strip mall bank and had more than enough to cover our retirements and yours. We were robbed by a criminal Congress who wanted to spend money without raising taxes. Much easier to just "borrow" from the enormous, glorious, pile of money the Boomers had paid into the Social Security system and then never pay it back.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Likening Social Security to a pyramid scheme may be somewhat true. But to suggest that something has changed is not. Just look to when Social Security was established. The original recipients did not pay into the system. Those working at that time paid for those original recipients. And there were 13 workers for each beneficiary. As those workers retired, the next generation of workers paid for them. Essentially, each generation paid for the retirement of their parents. It's been like that since it's inception. Nothing has changed. Well, something did change and it's a significant change. That is the number of current workers supporting the previous generation has steadily declined. What was then 13 workers is now 3 and will soon be 2. Why is that? We're living longer. Previous retirees who lived to be say 70 are now living to be 85. And previously a significant percentage did not live long enough to collect anything. Now, a larger percentage do live long enough. Unless we all agree to live shorter lifetimes, we're going to have to modify the system so that it becomes sustainable, as the current system is not.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree.

Since the money isn't in fact even kept in the trust fund to pay benefits, I'd say we should stop collecting separately, and basing benefits on amounts paid into the system.

Just collect taxes, and fund a retirement supplementation program, based on need.

That should be more sustainable.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

"Based on need". I see a huge bureaucracy being born. Just raise the age of eligibility a couple of years. Do it incrementally over the course of a few years to prepare people.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

"Just raise the age of eligibility a couple of years."

Translation-- The rich say we're broke, so retirees must pay.

How about this instead? Eliminate the income cap on SS contributions and there will be no funding crisis 30 years from now (and that's when the crisis will be despite all the crying of wolf.) Everybody who wants to gets to retire at 65.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

There are many strategies we could employ. But with life expectancy way up from when Social Security was implemented and I'm guessing that life expectancy will continue to go up, I'm not sure the number 65 has the same relevance it once had. I mean, how many years should we be working and how many years should we be retired? I saw a report a while back that in France, a civil servant with 20 years employment could then retire. So you get a job at age 22 and retire at 42? I'm not well versed on France's economy, but that just doesn't seem to be sustainable. If a person makes it to 65 here, what's their life expectancy? I'm guessing it's something like 20-25 years and going up. Adding two years to a person's working life and taking away those two years from retirement seems reasonable to me.

jafs 5 years ago

No larger than the current one, I'd think.

Instead of calculating payments based on amounts paid into the system, we'd assess need and make payments based on that instead.

And, since we're not collecting separately, we'd reduce that part of the bureaucracy.

Kate Rogge 5 years ago

Fine. But before you do that, make darn sure that the Federal and State governments are prepared to take employers to court when they refuse to hire or retain 67 year old employees.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 1 month ago

"Social Security is a social insurance program that is funded through dedicated payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA). Tax deposits are formally entrusted to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, or the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund." - Wikipedia

Unfortunately, the trustees are not trustworthy. The trustees tapped into the trust funds. The government is paying out social security from it's checking account rather than the trust account. The question is does congress understand the trust concept, or do they just see the social security payments coming out of the checking account? Our worry should be whether or not the government will honor it's debts.

gr 5 years ago

jafs, Why should the ant pay for the grasshopper's partying?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.