Letter to the editor: Using Social Security to cover debts hasn’t worked

Once again the outcry from the current leadership in Washington is that entitlement programs, which they define as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, are the cause of the growing national debt and they need to be cut.
Let’s be clear. Social Security and Medicare do not contribute to the national debt and Medicaid’s contribution to the debt is limited because it is not an entitlement program — it is a limited, state block-grant program. In regards to Social Security and Medicare, funds come from income taxes specifically earmarked for disbursement to seniors, the disabled, and their survivors. While some legislators say there are more funds going out of Social Security than in, that is not true. According to www.ssa.gov/policy/trust-funds-summary.html, the federal government took in more to Social Security reserves last year than it disbursed and there is still more than $2.9 trillion in reserves, in theory. So why do they say the reserves are depleted? Because the federal government has “borrowed” from the reserves to pay toward the national debt. Now the fund is full of IOUs which don’t earn interest. Using Social Security funds to pay down the debt obviously hasn’t worked because now we have the biggest debt in history and there is nothing left to borrow.
What does increase the national debt? Unchecked spending and tax cuts. The federal government spends much more than it receives in revenue, and the recent tax cuts have reduced revenue even further and have not resulted in increased wages to employees, as sponsors of the tax cuts tried to assure us. These legislators depend on an uninformed electorate that will follow like lemmings to the sea. The fact is that the Baby Boom bubble is reaching retirement age at the same time there is a decrease in younger workers, increasing outlays and decreasing revenue. This would not be a problem if the funds were actually in the reserves.
Blaming these programs for the national debt is unfair. Remember that it was only 83 years ago that our leaders in Washington understood the need for a financial safety net and created Social Security. For many seniors, Social Security provides nearly 90 percent of their retirement income and it is the main source of income for 67 percent of all elderly people. We cannot abandon our most vulnerable population when they need us most.
Don’t be fooled by the current leadership in Washington. We need to rein in spending and have a fair, equitable tax structure that makes the wealthy pay their fair share. Reducing the national debt should not fall on the backs of the vulnerable.
Michael Reeves

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