Social Security Calculations

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Our new old friend Harry Reid was on NewsHour last night, plugging his social security calculator on "" I guessed and then confirmed that no such site exists, and tried which I thought might be right until I noticed this is the *House* Democrats. So I tried (the 'S' stands for 'Senate'!) and saw Harry's happy shiny face.

I found the calculator and punched in some numbers. I was born in '73, and I picked a nice round number, $100,000. To my surprise (*cough*), Reid's calculator said with that income I would get less money from a private account than from social security.

But another calculator said I would get more. A lot more. Like, more than twice as much.

Who to believe? Well, it won't be Harry, that's for sure. Especially since the Heritage calculator gives me all the details and assumptions, and the Democrats aren't nearly as detailed in the assumptions listed in their linked PDF. And because it runs against common sense that if I put that much money in an account for 30-something years with compounded interest that I would get only $8,000 a year in return. But as I cannot evaluate their exact assumptions, I can't tell what the heck they are doing (I could try to read their JavaScript I suppose ... maybe for another day).

One thing I do think is hilarious is that in that linked PDF, they say there's a "privatization tax." A what? They take the concept that half my money goes into a private account instead of social security, and thus half my benefits come from same, and say that my social security benefits are getting "taxed" because I am not getting the full government-funded benefits I otherwise would. They call this a "tax:" not getting benefits I choose to not get, and don't pay into in the first place. This is doublespeak at its best. I almost admire it.

Another thing worthy of note is this little bit on the page: 'Since [Bush] has not made a specific proposal, these estimates assume that benefits are “price indexed,†a proposal made in Plan 2 of President Bush’s Social Security Commission.'

Huh. Bush has not made a specific proposal? Yes, that appears to be correct. This is one of the plans on the table from other people working for Bush, and Bush has not endorsed or pushed that one in particular.

Then why does Reid keep saying he has, such as in this quote from his response to Bush's state of the union?

There's a lot we can do to improve Americans' retirement security, but it's wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned with a guaranteed benefit cut of up to 40 percent.

Make no mistake, that's exactly what President Bush is proposing.

At least I agree with the Democrats on something: that Reid was lying when he said to the nation that Bush was proposing guaranteed benefit cuts.

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