The Credit Suisse list of the Top 20 US "tax expenditures" totaled $900 billion for fiscal year 2012. That list includes two items that affect retirement.
The larger category, which comes in at number two on the Credit Suisse Top 20 list, is a $138 billion subsidy for private pensions. It accounts for 15.3 percent of the Credit Suisse Top 20. Number 13 is Social Security at $26 billion, at 2.9 percent of the Credit Suisse $900 billion.
Those private retirement subsidies cost over 5 times as much as Social Security payments. So, if cutting costly tax breaks is the goal, then we get far more savings by putting tax subsidies to private pensions on the chopping block. But for some reason, those private tax breaks are getting a pass, while paying Social Security benefits are taking all the heat.