The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities talks some sense on Social Security's finances. The short version is that the recession has worsened the program's fiscal outlook -- much like it's worsened the fiscal outlook for every program. The long version is that "Social Security continues to run significant surpluses, even though the recession has temporarily shrunk their size."

It's a bit weird to have to write this exact post so often, but for reasons I'll never quite understand, there's a serious contingent of folks who'd like nothing more than to drop everything -- health care, global warming, taxes, everything -- and start tinkering with the finances of a comparatively sustainable pension program. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, is one of them. When the president turned to him for comments at the White House Health Care Summit, he ignored the issue at hand and said, "I'm among those, as you and I have discussed before, interested in seeing us address entitlement reform—and admittedly, Medicare and Medicaid would be a part of that—but also Social Security. And particularly concerned about having a mechanism in place that guarantees you get a result..if not on Medicare and Medicaid, at least on Social Security."

It's like watching parents worry about their rambunctious younger son rather than his sociopath brother. Indeed, it's almost as if this isn't just about the finances of the program.

One thing to note: Even with the temporarily worsened outlook, Social Security is in surplus till 2041. So when you see deficit estimations that look really bad in the next 10, 20, or 30 years, you're not seeing Social Security's involvement at all. Until 2041, it puts no pressure on the national debt.