Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

SOCIAL SECURITY DOOM MONGERING, PART 2....A fellow named Silent E liked my Social Security chart from last night, but suggested that instead of charting the calendar year of projected Social Security doom, I should instead chart the number of years remaining until doomsday.

Funny he should ask. The Political Animal graphics team had a similar thought last night, but I foolishly ignored them. So Silent E, this chart's for you: a year-by-year rundown of how much time is left until the Social Security trustees predict Social Security doom. Remarkably, no matter how much time goes by, we never seem to actually get any closer.

There's a very serious point to be made here. Projections of Social Security solvency are based on projections of future economic growth, and the Social Security trustees have been systematically too pessimistic about the economy for the past decade. What's more, there are good reasons to think that they're probably still being overly pessimistic.

If that's the case, then it's probable that the system as a whole is solvent forever and that we won't even have to touch the trust fund for another 40 years if then. And frankly, a "crisis" that's at least 40 years off and might very well never occur at all just isn't something we should be spending a lot of time on right now. Predicting economic growth within a few tenths of a point 40 years in the future is a mug's game, and trying to justify radical changes on such speculation is foolish.

Social Security is safer without private accounts than it is with them. We should leave it alone and convene again in ten years to see how things are going.

Kevin Drum 5:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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