Jun 13, 2022 • 13M

Social Security Trust Fund Running Out

in 2034 or 2035 or whenever -- looking at what this means

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Appears in this episode

Mary Pat Campbell
Meep (Mary Pat Campbell) talks about mortality trends and/or public finance issues, usually with a connection to current events.
Episode details

(please excuse the audio bobbles - I tried to edit them all out, but I missed a few. It was a software problem in processing the file.)

Related Links

CNBC: Social Security fund will be able to pay benefits one year longer than expected, Treasury says

OASI Trust Fund History: 1937-2021 - I will write more about this history another time

A quick graph of the ups and downs:

Every time those dots dip below the heavy bold line, the Trust Fund shrank. You can see the trouble of the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Actuarial News link: As our entitlements crisis gets closer, a solution moved farther away — that’s for Megan McArdle’s WaPo column. That’s because not everybody has access to the Washington Post.

But if you do, here’s the WaPo link: As our entitlements crisis gets closer, a solution moved farther away

I will quote a different part than the Actuarial News post:

Senior citizens are America's most powerful voting bloc. Any party that makes those changes unilaterally will be slaughtered — which means neither Republicans nor Democrats will do it unilaterally, unless they happen to be the unlucky folks who get stuck holding the bag when the money actually runs out.

This is the gloomiest development of the past 15 years. Not only are the parties more polarized than they were, making the bipartisan deal we need unlikely, but they struggle even to pass legislation on their own. President Donald Trump's Obamacare repeal and President Biden's Build Back Better agenda went down in flames not because of opposition obstructionism but because they couldn't rally enough of their own party's senators to make their bills pass. And these were minor compared with touching Social Security, the "third rail of American politics."


The politicians of yesteryear treated our entitlement problem like a fine wine, bound to improve if we only let it ferment for a few more years. Instead, the problem got even worse. We can't afford to wait around and watch it get harder still.

Actually, they didn’t, if you look at the late 1970s, and what they did to fix that.

I will write/talk more about Social Security later. There are lots of “fixes” possible, depending on what you consider the goal to be.

The goal I have is extremely sustainable, and the original goal of the program.

But that’s for later.