Abuse of the Social Security Trust Fund Began in the 1980s

Published on Dissident Voice, by Allen W. Smith, November 28th, 2009.

The mishandling of Social Security funds has been going on since the mid-1980s. As soon as the surpluses, resulting from the 1983 payroll tax hike, first began to flow into the Treasury, politicians from both political parties began using the money like a giant slush fund. At that time, it would be at least 30 years before the funds would actually be needed for Social Security, so politicians developed the bad habit of “temporarily borrowing” the money and using it for non-Social Security purposes. That bad habit never was broken, and every dollar of the $2.5 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue, generated by the tax hike, has been spent, leaving no real assets in the trust fund … 

… Bush, the “read-my-lips-no-new-taxes” president, did not need to raise taxes as long as he had access to the surplus Social Security revenue. During his four years in office, $211.7 billion in Social Security surplus revenue flowed into the U.S. Treasury. Every penny of it was spent for general government expenditures, and none of it was saved and invested for the payment of future Social Security benefits, as is commonly believed. This practice has continued until this day. The plan was that when benefit costs start to exceed payroll tax revenue, in about seven years, the Social Security trustees would begin dipping into the huge reserve that was supposed to be built up in the trust fund to make up the revenue shortfall in order to continue to pay full benefits. Unfortunately, there are no assets in the trust fund that can be dipped into. (full text).

(Dr. Allen W. Smith, is Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Eastern Illinois University. The author of seven books, Smith has been researching and writing about Social Security financing for the past ten years. Read other articles by Allen
… or visit Allen’s website, and this article: Commentary on Contemporary Government Economic Policies
).

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