Letter to the Editor ¦ June 21, 2001
The Brawl Over Social Security

By David Langer

Messrs. Moynihan and Parsons unimaginatively dredge up every discredited argument in their effort to justify privatization of Social Security. Most companies, for example, would be delighted to learn they can expect to be in fine shape until 2038. Financial people have enough of a problem-anticipating one year from now.

The co-chairs of the president's Social Security commission also have yet to discover that the adverse "demographics" have in fact been factored in since at least the early 1980s. The 1.86% long-term deficit has arisen solely at the direction of the program's politically appointed trustees to make the cost projections more conservative practically every year.

If these distinguished gentlemen have a problem with the Treasury repaying the money it borrows from the Social Security trust funds, they should try explaining this to all the mutual funds that sell Treasuries as the most secure investment imaginable. The Treasury will have to repay the loans at maturity to those mutual funds as well as to the trust funds.

The social insurance program is not intended to generate estates. It is intended to keep people whole on retirement and death. Those that have the wherewithal to do so are not precluded from supplemental wealth accumulation.

The distinguished co-chairs should be pondering the wisdom of being on a commission that excludes any representative of 200 million workers and beneficiaries and assuming, the role of yes men.