Monday, September 04, 2006

Not Real on Social Security

One can now add Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robert Casey, Jr., to the list of those who either dissimulate or lack understanding of the future of Social Security. Yesterday, Casey responded to questions about the entitlement by saying that there was no crisis and that we could "do nothing."

Of course, disingenuousness has been a characteristic of much of the debate over government retirement entitlements over the last decade. Republicans have sometimes warned of a crisis, but then adopted a massive new Medicare entitlement to prescription drugs. On the other hand, one can not forget Al Gore's repetitious invocation of the mythical lockbox. That metaphor gave the misleading impression that excess social security taxes were being locked away as a future resource. In fact, those revenues were always turned into treasury notes used to fund the general budget, meaning that the result was a future government obligation, not a resource.

One may debate the proper response to the impending budget crisis facing a federal government that is making future promises that it cannot possibly keep. However, anyone thinking they have ended the debate by arguing that we can do nothing is either hopelessly irresponsible or grossly misinformed.

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