The NYT Does Not Like Social Security

That is what can be concluded from its decision to call the Treasury bonds held by the Social Security trust fund "IOUs."
This is not the normal term applied to government bonds in the New York Times or anywhere else. This is a pejorative term that has the effect of undermining the credibility of the trust fund. That is the sort of comment that is usually reserved for its opinion pages.

The article also wrongly tells readers that: "By 2016, Social Security will begin paying more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes, according to the annual report of government trustees." Actually, Social Security is currently paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes. This fact has no special relevance for the program since it has already accumulated more than $2.5 trillion in government bonds to cover future projected shortfall. Opponents of Social Security have long sought to hype the date when benefits would exceed annual tax collections in order to promote the sense of crisis.

Any serious discussion of Social Security and the potential benefit cuts would mention the financial situation of near retirees. Due to the loss of wealth caused by the collapse of the housing bubble, the vast majority of near retirees have almost no wealth accumulated to support them in retirement. Any honest analyst would take this fact into account in a discussion of plans to cut Social Security (and Medicare) benefits for workers who are within 15-20 years of retirement.

--Dean Baker

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