Social Security Is Fine. Stop With the Chicken Little Stuff Already.

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The New York Times warns us that Social Security will be bankrupt any second now:

Next year, for the first time since 1982, the program must start drawing down its assets in order to pay retirees all of the benefits they have been promised, according to the latest government projections. Unless a political solution is reached, Social Security’s so-called trust funds are expected to be depleted within about 15 years. Then, something that has been unimaginable for decades would be required under current law: Benefit checks for retirees would be cut by about 20 percent across the board.

….“Fifteen years is really just around the corner for people planning their retirements,” said John B. Shoven, a Stanford economist who is also affiliated with the Hoover Institution and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Oh please. The last time Social Security was in trouble, the supposedly final, drop-dead, full-on crisis date was April 1983, when Social Security would start to run a deficit and check processing would be delayed. Do you know when President Reagan finally signed legislation to fix things? April 1983.

I’m all in favor of reforming Social Security now, because it’s easier if we give ourselves time to phase in the changes. But if we don’t, retirees are astronomically unlikely to face any problems. Congress might not get around to fixing things until a few weeks before checks will be slashed, but they’ll get around to it. Anything else would be political suicide.

The best time to do this will probably be a few years from now, when President Harris and Speaker Ocasio-Cortez agree on a plan to soak the rich in order to increase benefits to low-income retirees and stabilize payments for everyone else. Republicans could probably avoid this by cutting a deal now, but they’re too dumb and shortsighted to do it.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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