Selected Summary Points from IOUs in the Cookie Jar

  • Terms like "bankruptcy" and "insolvency" exaggerate the problems of Social Security.
  • The Social Security trust funds are not now in trouble.
  • A 1.5-trillion-dollar surplus, sufficient to pay all benefits for 2.8 years, existed in the Social Security trust funds at the end of the year 2003.
  • The surplus is expected to grow to more than $4 trillion by the year 2018.
  • Most U.S. wage earners pay more Social Security tax than income tax.
  • Surplus Social Security payroll taxes are now being used to fund operating expenses of the U.S. Government.
  • The 12.4% Social Security payroll tax could be reduced to 9.4% and still cover current benefit payments.
  • Some numbers cited to promote the idea that Social Security is facing a crisis -- the alleged 10.4 trillion dollar unfunded obligation and the 16-retiree-per-worker ratio of the 1950s -- are deceptive because they have been selected out of context.

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(I must admit: the authors of these articles express many of the important ideas better than I.)

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