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Member since: Sat Mar 27, 2004, 03:35 PM
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Let's try this again: No, Social Security is NOT insolvent.

Today I keep running into this stubborn insistence by some on DU that Social Security is really insolvent, despite the $2.6 trillion dollar Social Security Trust Fund; or that the payroll taxes which supply Social Security and other programs are taken to pay for the Defense Department or other government spending. Both of these statements are amazingly false.

The Social Security Trust Fund was created for the express purpose of saving up enough money to get the system through the wave of baby boomer retirements. Prior to that, Social Security was entirely "pay as you go," with there being no buffer between what was collected in payroll taxes and what was paid out as benefits. To pay for the boomers, payroll taxes were hiked and the SSTF was created to store the surplus against the day when there would be too many retirees for those currently working to pay for.

Now so that the Social Security Trust Fund money wasn't just sitting there doing nothing, and for it to make more money to pay out later as benefits, that money was invested. But it had to be invested in a way that would present no risk of losing the money which had already been entrusted to the system from people's taxes. Therefore, it was invested into US Treasury bonds, which are a famously no-risk investment, and pay a healthy return in the form of interest. When you see people mention the US government paying the interest on it's debt, a large chunk of that interest goes into the Social Security Trust Fund.

Which brings us to the claims that because the money has been invested, somehow the Social Security system is bankrupt or that the money has been "stolen." To apply this same standard to day to day living, you would have to believe that you're giving away your money to the bank when you put it in a savings account. This seems fairly absurd on the face of it, but some people really believe it about the Social Security Trust Fund, simply because it's "the government." But no, SSTF funds and payroll taxes aren't "hiding deficit spending," or being given away, or anything so absurd. Like any good retirement program, it's growing every day until the day it's actually spent on sending benefits to a senior.

WH deal: Nothing in the NDAA will be interpreted to "expand the authority" of the POTUS or military.

In case anyone's wondering about the exact details of the changes to the National Defense Authorization Act that the White House extracted over Obama's veto threat: The final passage bill will contain explicit language saying that nothing in the bill "is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authority for Use of Military Force." This means no strictures requiring terrorism suspects to be held in military custody instead of the civilian justice system as the Obama administration has been doing; no expanded authority for detentions; and no forced return to military tribunals.

Also, Section 1032 B 1 (of the House version, haven't checked the Senate version) explicitly states that military detention "does not extend to citizens of the United States." Section 1032 B 2 also states it "does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States."
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